Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: A Humbling Year

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.  - Romans 8:28a
I know I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve honestly loved the thought of maintaining a regular blog, but with working full time, commuting 7 hours/week, and preparing for seminary (by the way in case any readers weren’t aware), I haven’t been incredibly motivated to keep posting regularly. As much as I love sharing material I come across and as much as I love writing, I’m not quite at the time of my life where blogging can be as much of a priority as I’d like it to be. That being said, blogging is still a fantastic way to form and communicate thoughts in a semi-private/semi-public way that holds me accountable to my words and yet won’t grade me on every single grammatical or syntax error. So resetting expectations, you might see weeks, months, or even years pass between posts, but check back from time to time because I do intend to post if time and priorities and interest allows.

Like now! I want to finish 2012 with some reflections on this last year tied in with what I initially intended to this blog to be: sharing what I am learning. And boy am I...

1.    I am learning that I miss college...a lot. While I certainly am happy to have graduated and to be in a well-paying job, nothing beats the constant day to day interaction with so many awesome people and the intellectual stimulation classes bring and oh, not to mention, the Pride of Oklahoma. One thing I don’t miss though is late, late nights doing homework, that’s for sure. I have also been incredibly blessed to still be in Norman in order to strengthen and maintain certain friendships with those who I wish to remain friends with long after our vocations lead us away from one another (geographically).

2.    I am learning that I got SUPER lucky with finding a great job to start me off out of college and hopefully transition me to seminary. It is definitely not something I want to do my whole life, but it requires a college degree, pays more than Best Buy or waiting tables, and I am genuinely challenged every day with interacting with diverse people, making quick and important decisions, strengthening my organization and time management skills, and serving a heck of a whole lot of people who get into car accidents. Not to mention the people I work with are awesome, and my boss is pretty chill. I am pretty much used to my 45 minute commute each way by now, and I really am enjoying the time to wind down after a day’s work. I am thankful for having been given such an opportunity.

3.     I am learning how remarkable these people are, and how much I will miss my sister when she goes to Italy all next semester:




4.    I am learning that I do not take a long-term relationship breakup well...at all. Combining that with the changes that come with graduation made for a pretty darn difficult summer and fall. I could almost write a novel with how much this breakup has taught me and the struggles I’ve gone through, but I’ll just give a brief cliffnotes version about what it’s taught me that avoids some of the messy details. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9
This breakup, as in the complete termination of our relationship (even a platonic one) and the hopes of a future family together rooted in Christ, has flat out sucked. There’s no sugar coating it. The effects of our sin against each other, the lack of honesty, and the lack of forgiveness has been felt hundredfold and has been hard as could be to put away and move on. One thing that has happened, though, is that I have grown immensely from it. Despite how horrible this experience has been, I am being made better for the trials I have had to endure. That being said, I will be the last person to say that God is the one who caused our breakup, for I know that nothing that happened in the course of our breakup is anything God would actually call good. However, just as God constantly in Scripture takes the horrifying events caused by our sin and the devil’s influence and makes good out of them (you know, like that whole promising a Savior to Adam and Eve after they rebelled against God thing or the whole never forsaking Israel and bringing forth a Messiah despite how wretched and unfaithful Israel was to God...thing), likewise, I have seen the good that has come out of this awful breakup and I’m positive that God will reveal in due time out of his love and mercy even more blessings as a result. For starters, I see my mistakes, even from the beginning, and I see certain things that were done and not done that led to what became. Lastly for this post, I am learning just how hard forgiveness really is, and it has given me an incredible appreciation for how our Lord never forsakes those who believe in Him and always forgives us despite how constant and how terribly we live as the unfaithful wretched sinners we are.

5. I am learning that time doesn’t heal. Jesus does.

6. I am learning immense empathy (Note: Sympathy is to have compassion towards someone, even though you may never have gone through what they are. Empathy, on the other hand, is having compassion and being able to relate as someone who has gone through something similar) towards those who go through hard long-term breakups, or even divorces. Although as unbearable at times as my breakup has been, nothing can compare to the tragedy of a wife or husband sitting alone with three children because he or she has been abandoned by one who has said the “I do” at marriage. Nevertheless, I know now how real that pain is. Call me crazy, but I am convinced that divorce and separation is just as bad of an effect of the fall into sin as death itself. For divorce and separation represents a living death, that is, losing a loved one to sin who is yet still living and a constant reminder that it is our own sin that caused such a living death.

7.  I am learning how to recognize the devil’s voice, and also how powerful the devil can be when he presents the lie that God can be found in our feelings, our hands, and our minds to lead us away from the one true God who can only be found in His Word, and only through the Word are we shown what our purpose in life is. Yes I know, I am reflecting the thoughts of Jonathan Fisk’s Broken: 7 Christian Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible, but it’s impossible to not also use what he has to say and relate it to the experiences I’ve endured this year.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
8.  I am learning that I may not have great direct revelations from God like our friend Paul to keep me from becoming conceited, but holy crap, my back hurts. It started with a little neck soreness right around graduation when everything stressful was coming to a head: finals, graduation, people I love leaving, new job. This little neck soreness became infinitely worse and started to extend down my entire back after the breakup and it’s been a constant battle trying to relieve the pain. To say it’s been humbling would be an understatement, and yet, by it I am learning what it means to suffer alongside my Savior who no matter what will never leave or forsake me.

9. Along the same lines, I am learning patience. Patience that my job will get better as I become more familiar with the systems. Patience that I will be seen through the pain of the breakup. Patience that in due time I will be back in the classroom and surrounded again by awesome like-minded people. Patience that I will be healed of my back pain eventually, even if that eventually isn’t until I’m delivered from all evil and am brought to the side of my Lord. Patience that the Lord will provide for me another chance at a wife and family, and if that never does come, that same patience that in the end everything will be redeemed and exceedingly better in the next life anyways.

10. I am learning that baseball may just be the best sport on the planet, but man, the Rangers are a hard team to be a fan of. Patience, Kurt, patience...

11. I am learning the beauty and genius of Luther’s Small Catechism. Re-committing it to heart has been so helpful at times that my mind wants to wander away to less than pleasant thoughts. Get it. Learn it. Love it.

12. I am learning that Facebook is not always the greatest place for discussing certain issues, though it certainly isn’t the worst.

13. I am learning about this guy and his total kick-butt pagan temple destroying story:



Seriously though, I’ve “read” the Old Testament before, but to read it in such depth and along with such a phenomenal overview commentary that places Jesus at the center has been such a revitalizing journey.

14. I am learning that I can grow a pretty sweet and full beard!

15. I am learning that through everything the devil and the world throws at me, God is there for me and will always work in mysterious ways and through the humble means of water, bread, wine, and of course, people. I am thankful for every single person who has brought the love of God to me either in the form of the saints at Trinity Lutheran Church (and especially Vicar who has been there for me so much), family, faithful friends in K-Psi and TBS, and even my colleagues at work. Thank you all. I truly am blessed to the fullest, even in the midst of down moments.

What I look forward to learning this coming year:
  • How to cook! Okay, this one might take awhile...
  • How to be accepted to Concordia Seminary and/or Concordia Theological Seminary and make a decision to attend one of them for the next four years of my life which I will then look forward to learning how to become a faithful pastor!
  • How to be academic again and write gooder
  • How to maintain a more athletic lifestyle
  • How to not rely on my gut, my hands, or my head but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
  • How to read the New Testament in its original language
  • How to see without glasses OR contacts
  • How to love a new nephew and other new family members
2012 had its ups. It certainly had its downs. One thing it certainly did have though: Humility. This is a good thing. Here's to 2013!