Tuesday, April 22, 2008

[Grand]children of the revolution

So early the other morning this kid walked out to the park near my office, climbed the tree by the cricket nets and hanged himself.

This sort of news cuts me to pieces, I'm devastated. I try to imagine what it would be like to get to the point where a painful, public death is the better option than living another day. It was on a Tuesday morning. Just a mid-week restless night followed by a dawn hanging. Such a tragic end to a beautiful existance. He didn't deserve to go down like that. No one deserves that kind of pain regardless of the catastrophic mistakes we make.

It's funny though, the pain we go through. People of previous generations must look down at us, what we've got, our relatively easy existance and wonder why on earth our suicide rate continues to rise. I mean, most of us have never lived through a time of war, famine, depression or disease. We can buy fast-food at any time of the night, mobile phones connect us with any friend in an instant, we live in one of the richest countries in the world and we are bearing children at about the same age as the life-expectancy in Africa. Our choices are limitless. It could be heaven.

But it's not.

People are constantly trying to distinguish our generation, but to be honest I don't think we'll know who we were until we are remembered by generations to follow. Generation Y they call us. Comes right after X. Raised by Baby Boomers. The children of the revolution. The Boomers are famous for their approach to peace, then sex, contraception, their greed in the 80s and a huge divorce rate. Oh they also invented rock music and currently control the world. But to me they're simply the oldies. They worked hard to change the world and did it. Everything that is popular now is because of them and everyone that knows a little bit about marketing knows that their generation are the richest consumers. Columnists love to talk up some sort of rift or tension between our generations as if we're about to duke it out for control of the planet, but I think it's exactly the same as any relationship that kids have with their parents, things will settle as we mature (they did for the Boomers and their Builder parents).

But one thing doesn't sit right with me. The Baby Boomers fought hard to change the world, they got it and we live in it. The problem though, seems to lie in that. We live this amazing, gluttenous life, a life filled with the fruit of the Boomers' labour but it just isn't filling the void. We're still lost. I can't get my head around the fact that a kid could commit suicide or self harm after the achievement of every comfort that we live in that has been so passionately pursued by previous generations. We've reached a pinnacle in humanity and it's not even coming close to hitting the mark. It makes me wonder. I wonder if the things they pursued all those years ago were ever going to make a difference to our prosperity and I wonder if they'd known back then that it wouldn't really make our lives any more comfortable whether there would have been any passion for change or a revolution at all. I wonder, did they pick the right fights? Has the comfort and prosperity that they achieved become null and void because we, the following generations, are still not happy. And finally, I wonder which revolutions will we pursue. What changes in the world will define our generation.

There's this guy in the bible who asks Jesus about gaining eternal life, the kind of life we were always meant to have. He was this rich official, it's in Luke 18:18 if you want to look it up. Jesus tells him that if he wants eternal life he has to sacrifice the things that hold him down. Jesus directs him to give his money to the poor and follow him. He doesn't do this though, neither of these things appeal to him, they clash with his lifestyle. Imagine the change, the discomfort, I don't blame the guy. Luke then goes on to say that: "He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go." I find it interesting that Luke points out that he is very rich and terribly sad... sound familiar? It sounds like me. It sounds like us. We live a very comfortable, cashed-up, secure existance, we pile up money like a Babylonian tower, shelter from pain. We control our lives and we, like the rich official (or rich young ruler in some translations) and are not prepared to change... it's picking us off, one by one, like the young guy in the park.

Somehow we have to find a way to escape our self-destruction and I'm glad Jesus takes a stand on it in this passage. He sets this standard, he says to give up the cashed up lifestyle, the self-controlled destruction and simply follow him. Now I'm not sure any of us, especially in the western world have ever mastered this, we're so envious of everyone around us and we're all (including church leaders) incredibly greedy and self-centred. We have no comprehsion that someone in a third world country might be able to feel prosperity. We think success starts in our wallets but it's really in our heads.

Perhaps we can learn from where the Baby Boomers missed the mark. Perhaps there's still hope for our salvation. Perhaps our generation will define itself by its self-sacrifice and pursuit of the true Jesus Christ. I can't imagine anything harder and it seems incredibly impossible but it's the only revolution worth fighting for. The only war I want to wage. It's a battle for our heads, our hearts and our lives and God is on our side.


It's funny the memories that a photograph can bring back. Going to Dad's place for dinner I always look back at old photos of myself, usually with disgust, but tonight I saw this photo that is about four years old. I remember thinking at the time how bad I looked in it. I've always hated the way I looked, but tonight I could only see how young and fresh I was. Awkward looking, but not the hideous Quasimodo I once thought I was. And for this fleeting second I realised how amazing life is and how we never appreciate it at the time but we are all such uniquely beautiful people. We look a certain way for a certain time and when that goes we'll never get it back.

The people I was with in the photo are also now just memories, I mean we're still friends, we still keep in contact once in a while, and we are still the same people but our lives have change and our relationships have too and we'll never have the friendship back that we had for that fleeting season in our lives... or maybe we will who knows. I guess what I've realised is that things change all the time. Our lives are full of amazing moments; laughter and hurt, comfort and anxiety. Our perception of life at the time though is always distorted by temporary emotions. Sometimes we want to stay in the moment forever because it feels so incredible or sometimes we just want to get out of it as quick as we can because the pain feels unbearable. But too often life can be like that flower that when you were in primary school gave that definitive answer as to whether "she loves me or loves me not". We drop seasons of our existence to the floor like the petals of a daisy. We pick apart something that as a whole was so beautiful in the quest to discover something that at the time seemed so important but looking back now was of little or no significance.

God has promised us abundant life. Not abundant blessing or a comfortable ride. Life is all about the ups and downs, the beauty and the pain. I can't help but notice that the grass always seems greener on the other side... until you really sit down and talk to the person you're jealous of. There are this myriad of experiences you are about to face and your life is going to last such a long time. Never let a fleeting moment of agony or ecstasy stop you from living. It's the hard times that make the good ones so amazing.

In the end when all is done and dusted when I'm cruising through the clouds with my heaven buddies I get feeling that I won't be disappointed with what was handed to me because I will have gotten exactly what was always promised, a unique and amazing experience. Life in abundance. Thinking about it now almost makes my heart cave in. I'm never going to know what it would have been like to walk in another persons shoes but I know what I'll be saying when I've worn through mine... "I wouldn't have had it any other way."

I... will be with you again

Two thousand and eight approaches, life trundles forward like an unapologetic freight train. It's late at night and my mind ponders with mild discontentment but far more optimism than I think it has had during any other season in two thousand and seven. I feel like God is finally back in control of my life, a life that has been at very least cyclonic this past year.

Twelve months of Cyclone Yahweh have levelled life flat. I've spent the last four years of my life building this awesome city, Ashville, Population: 1. It's towers and monuments once tall and strong now just litter my memory, scattered in the wind. Every now and then I stand up and begin to rebuild, but the storm simply returns...

I'm learning... I promise you I'm learning... Wisdom only seeps through by osmosis and my age continues to climb. I'm losing life, eliminating childhood dreams and receiving unwanted responsibilities. Love and freedom departed as Ashville became fortified. Things that were once fresh and new now seem warm and stale.

I think I've been in shock. This year I've really experienced life in all its fragility. No one close to me has died but I feel as if I've lost more friendships this year than any other year, including a very special girl.

Friendship has been the way I've measured my life, it's been the one-up I've had on so many people for so long but now I feel fragile and humble as a seemingly endless parade of valued friends leave my inner circle. I'm also wise to the fact though that God's doing this for a reason. He wants me closer to him... and I'm trying, but I still have a long way to go.

I feel myself wandering a desert wondering how hard I'll have to fight to capture promised territory. Intimidated and uninspired. I wonder if I'll ever lurch forward in battle again. I'm cared for by so many but at times my soul feels barren and dry. Two thousand and seven has definitely been a year unlike any I've experienced.

I'm standing strong and digging deep though because tonight God is as strong in me as he's ever been. U2 once wrote this song a long time ago called "New Years Day" I'm not sure what it's about but it seems relevant to this season. The chorus promises: "I... will be with you again". And although I know I haven't been abandoned I've felt this unexplainable distance from God, "New Years Day" reminds me that this distance will soon end. It also reminds me that I'm loved... and I feel as though that song has been God's vow to me this year through every battle I've fought. It sounds crazy but I don't even care anymore.

So despite my discontentment I'm standing on the edge of two thousand and eight peering excitedly over the edge ready to lurch forward again. Ready to find out what "I... will be with you again" really means, ready to be with God, ready to let God replace what he's torn down. It's going to be a great year.

Life(consume, copulate, die, repeat)?

I have a confession to make, I am trapped. Plagued by a thought that I can only assume everyone thinks about but nobody dares discuss. Actually it is more of a recurring anxiety.

I have never gotten my head around the fact that my life has little or no purpose. And that there is very little I can ever do with my life that will carry on any sort of significance beyond my demise. I question myself, I ask; in the end is my life going to count? Will I have made an ounce of difference in the lives of anyone I've tried to reach out to? Have I ever really fully extended my arm? Is the job I do, day in and day out just a distraction from the fact that my life has and never will have any purpose? I mean, was I really created to just consume and exist, copulate and die... to be just another burden on our Earth's rapidly depleting natural resources. Am I pumping knowledge and character into a soul that will simply one day just whither and die, just as I reach the peak of my wisdom?

These are my thoughts. My anxiety is my confession.

Maybe life isn't it. Maybe retirement is not my life's big goal. Is death even the end? If it isn't, why do we clutch hold of our lives so firmly? After a few years of study (or at least close attention to the topic) I realised that life has to be just preparation for eternity. Meaning that regardless of how hard we try to cruise through our comfortable, crowd-following lives there are certain things we need to know, choices that have to be made, tests that must be passed and character that has to be forged. And as a result, death itself is not the end, just a change of residence. Our loving hearts will exist far beyond their burial.

Anberlin vocalist Stephen Christian pleads "The greatest tragedy is not your death but a life without reason" in his song "Never take friendship Personal" and I couldn't agree more, at least when you die you get to go to heaven. But without direction or a reason to live, people just tend to curl up in depression, I can relate to this personally. Many people become not only incapable of any sort of love but also seem to lose even the love they reserved for themselves. Razorblades and sedatives become attractive realities.

Nobody ever had a childhood dream of living a selfish life where they just existed and consumed. I know I didn't, I desired fun, I craved excitement, I chased a job that I could be respected in and an unselfish life that left a legacy in its wake. I feel so frustrated and defeated sometimes though because I catch myself craving so many selfish things that I never thought I would desire, I catch myself deviating from the path I've been called along. I realise how pathetic and petty I am and I hate it. I can't go a day without caffeine. That scares me. I have a need for constant companionship. Which makes me question who I really depend on and I battle with my own thoughts; depression, lust, pride etc.

I can't help but think that if I was able to let go of all my dependencies and step out a little more, be that bit more passionate, my dreams may already be being fulfilled. I may not be addicted to any drugs (other than caffeine) but I am definitely addicted to the chemicals my brain produces as a result of these lifestyle dependencies. I indulge daily in the chemical my brain produces to make me feel comfortable and the chemical that makes me feel apathetic. I recognise it, but like any drug addict I often feel helpless.

I see men twenty or thirty years older than me working a similar job to mine living with similar chemical dependencies and I wonder if I could continue doing a job, feeding a dependency that is so totally soul destroying for such a huge portion of my life. Also will the security of a mortgage buy me a life stripped of freedom? And is my job a false purpose, something to do every day to cover the fact that life is meaningless?

I probably know the answers to most of these questions, perhaps if I stepped out, stepped away from my fears, my anxieties, the comfort, the indifference and the apathy I might receive some clarity in taking my next step in what I'm really supposed to focus on right now.

I have been a Christian for over four years now, the answers are all there but aren't always the ones I want hear. Jesus Christ followed a simple rule, he taught followers two primary over ruling commandments, these are; not to hold anything back in our love for God and to unselfishly love others, focusing on those less fortunate. And the New Testament's main writer Paul stated that he existed (resisted his urges to take his own life) only to live to help others. These things are such a challenge in our complicated post post-modern world but selflessness is so desperately lacking and therefore always needs significant thought when we are looking to focus our attention on our life's purpose. I also keep in the back of my mind that the only thing of any long term eternal significance, and therefore the only thing that will really satisfy this yearning in life is to let people know about the result of Christ's sacrifice thus hopefully taking people to the same place that I am heading when I depart.

I guess I am searching for clarity as much as the next guy, my hope is that I gave anyone who is enduring enough to reach the bottom of this blog some ideas to think about and not something that will throw your mind into disarray. Please tell me your thoughts.


Hey Miss Murder can I take my life?

There is a growing subculture out there that anyone who knows me could tell you i have a strong connection with, they are defined by their hardcore music, black clothes and scarred wrists. They are those kids stuck half way between happiness and death. You see them gathered together at shopping centres and congregating at malls, they have long black fringes, obvious piercings and a posture that exposes a complete lack of confidence. They are my people.

At twenty-three I am not sure why I feel such a connection with these kids, these "Emos", maybe it is because i grew up liking a simlar style of music and clothing or maybe it is because I was such a depressed teenager. Either way I have this back-log of empathy for any kid who reaches out to the world in this way. And at twenty-three I still too question the reason for life. Can anyone relate?

Suicide is such an overwhelming, scary thought. Sadly though it seems to somehow enter the minds of just about everyone during their lives, personally i'm not suicidal or depressed for that matter, but i cant honestly say that the thought has never crossed my mind. It is also such a serious subject that the media can say almost nothing about it which i guess is for fear that a report may lead to an epidemic or copy cat deaths.

We are all curious though aren't we. What makes a teenager or young adult question life to the point where they decide that it is no longer worth living, surely it has to be more than a single devastating event that kicks them over the edge. In their song "Miss Murder" AFI ponder "Hey Miss Murder can I take my life?" Which has made my mind churn over for months now... what a statement... more and more this culture is questioning its reason for existance and seemingly no one is reaching out, telling them why they should stay.

For those who dont already know, i became a christian a few years back, it was an event in my life that no one would have predicted, certainly not me, i mean, i was happy in my rut. Happy in my emotive hardcore lifestyle. But suddenly things changed and just like that it was/is a completely new life and an incredible new world. It was hard though trying to help my friends and family understand, i discovered alot of people have a simmering hatred for anyone "religious" and i soon realised that it was much harder to share my new passion with people than i thought.

Early on in my new christian life though i learned a huge thing that i guess no one considers, it rocked me to my core to the point of no return from my new passion, i learned that life is simply preparation for eternity, not just a waiting room for heaven and that while i was down here both good and bad events would refine me.

Suddenly my problems weren't so big. And it's funny but i became dependent on God. Jesus said he'd leave us with a spirit that would comfort us through this sort of time. And in my experience i have often felt this comfort, i cant and never will be able to explain it, but i feel it.

A great man once demanded "Let my people go!" and shortly after that he marched an entire nation of captives to freedom. So i guess this is it, my stand, and it sounds crazy but I really feel like i've found something special, something that has not only changed my life but has the potential to change the lives of millions. And it never fails to sound lame but i'll continue to say it: Jesus Christ saved my life.

Giving a damn...

I often find myself wondering why i even bother with people, not only my friends but those guys on the fringe you want help out too, I mean I'm hardly a stalker but just other day I sent a friendly text messge to an old friend of mine and she sent me a reply telling me to never text her again, it crushed me, I hate that.

So I think "What's the point?" and my thoughts begin to spiral. Your Eternity is determined by your faith right? I mean you can only get that ticket to God-ville if you believe in Christ, you will never bake enough cookies for the church fundraiser to get there. So why do I risk soul crushing rejection when I know I'm already guarenteed a place in the big city in the sky. Helping them won't benefit me. Doing good things will not get you into heaven, they dont even guarentee you a good life.

These deeds though, these acts of love totally determine the eternity of your friends.
The way we treat them, they way we love them, our relentless care to those around us in the midst our battleground lives may be the only thing that can bridge that gap between them and the ultimate source of love [God].

One of the hardest things for me is that I have to make that choice to not simply say "Whatever" when I see a need in the life of a friend. I'm generally very apathetic. I get home from work everyday just too tired to care. Fortunately though my life is constantly being bombarded with hardship/tragedy, that slowly moulds my character and develops my conviction.

Everyday I find I have to adopt an attitude that refuses to let compliments or complaints dictate my emotions. Hurt people cannot bring you down, no one can bring you down, if you simply make the choice to love them regardless of what comes out of their mouths. Think of your acts of kindness and those hard choices you make as sacrifices. These sacrifices are purely for the benefit of those around you. You know where you're going when you die, they have no idea.
So I just want to encourage you, keep being that frustratingly nice person, keep giving a damn about your friends (and those other people around you who mess with your space), deliberately make that choice to improve the days of everyone you meet, they do notice the small things you do. They may never thank you, but it sure is satisfying to watch a life that was only changed because you decided to intervene. And who knows, a consistant caring relationship may just initiate a Godly one.

Marriage & Divorce

Hands up everyone who has divorced parents. My parents split when i was 11, it was probably the most tragic event in my childhood but i had alot of support because strangely it seemed to be about the same time that alot of my friends' families fell apart too. I once heard an alarming statistic that stated most households would be single parent families in just a few short years. What's the go with that?

Why did the marriages of the previous generation decay? Is the rising generation destined for divorce too? What affects does it have on us and our kids?

Now don't get me wrong i soo love both my Mum and Dad, they have been the most loving parents any person could hope for (and Mum and Dad if you're reading this... i am not still hurting over this and you have no need to feel guilty), and i can't possibly judge the decision that was made, i know that the decisions made at the time were honestly believed to be for the good of the family. Some of the hardest years of my life though followed from that time on, they helped shape and define the person i am today, i grew in character becoming strong and persevering (thanks for making me a fighter :p), but i'll always wondered what kind of man i would have been if i had a father in my life during that time.

Everything inside me says that marriage is the most amazing thing a guy can hope for, to have the total love, trust and support of a beautiful woman sometimes seems to be as close to heaven as we can get while we're still on Earth. I've felt that way since i was about 12 when i first started noticing just how ridiculously good-looking some of the girls at school were getting... i later discovered that marriage is not only historically popular but also biblical. We are given a beautiful love affair while we're alive to keep us always supported, passionate and strong. A gift from God to spur us on.

I also can't help but notice that every girls MySpace favourite movie list always seems to include "The Notebook". Which is probably the best romance movie i've seen... it documents a love affair between two teenagers and ends with the pair dying in one anothers arms after a long satisfying life together. This is what everyone is hoping for. Love. We are all desperate for it. We always have been.

I know i'm not the only person to say this and it scares me to think it but i find myself going there more and more often, i ask, "Why do I have so much trouble falling in love?" is it because my parents split and i don't want that to happen to me or is it because it's happened to everyone and all of society is scared of vulnerability or commitment, thus marriage being less important in our culture. Is the rising generation going to be less loving than the previous one? Are we all damaged goods?

I still have alot to learn about this subject... it's so tragic to see prostitutes walking the streets and to meet guys with seemingly no self esteem, i wonder if they had Dads to guide them during their development... I wondered what an increasingly fatherless generation will look like? It's interesting to see that in the heroes section on MySpace most people have put their Dad... i've also heard that most girls look for the same characteristics and virtues that their father displayed. So then another question arises... what happens to girls who have never had the love of a father? Where do they go to find it? It's the same with guys... who do we look to? How do guys know how to treat a lady or raise a family? These questions plague me, no one seems to be asking them and they're of such importance in our society.

For the first time though i see a light at the end of the tunnel. For the past 3 or so years i've been going to church, now our church has very few old people (people over 40, sorry if that includes you but if you're 40 you're officially Dad-aged), i have almost no older male role models (my pastor is only 33). But the more my relationship deepens with God, the more i realise his solution to the problem. Church.

By going to church, engaging in a relationship with God and caring for hurt people (everyone in the world) i am learning to love. Getting something back that i had drained from me during childhood. Every week God seems to pour his love all over me, i was as sceptical as anyone else when i was first dragged along, but i found that if i can just let go and thank God for everything he's given me, his presence is undeniable. I also have tonnes of deep, amazing friendships with people i'll know for the rest of my life. Together we support each other through anything and everything that trips us up in life. I once thought church was all about brain washing and propaganda, an irrelevant and archaic ritual or tradition that people were scared into passing down the generations but i now realise that it's the solution, the only solution to having an amazing life.

Now dont get me wrong i'm still single and would dearly love a wife but i've never been more content being single in my life... i can't wait for marriage though...




On the weekend at church my pastor said something that really stood out. The message was on selfishness vs selflessness and how it relates to relationships. He said (and it's something Rick Warren has said too) that people are always asking the question: If there's a God then why is there evil in the world? and i guess it's something we all question hey. Why do bad things happen if God is truly supreme? His answer though was brilliant... he said: That's not the question people should be asking, the real question is: Why is there good in the world?

Sometimes you don't realise how selfish you are, i really try to be selfless, but i know that im nowhere near where i'm needed to be and that is incredible because there are alot of people out there who are equally or are far more selfish than i am, a whole world infact, billions of people doing selfish acts, making selfish choices... so going back to my first paragraph, "why is there good in the world?"

The only reason that there is any good in the world at all is because God is in control. Think about it, where on earth would any good come from in a world full of people as selfish as me. I guess it's easy to see how God is supreme when you look at it this way.

I love everything about the suburb i live in, it's called Varsity Lakes and it is really cool, it has been designed around a lake and has heaps of great parkland... but i know that it has all been designed because some guy in an office has worked out that if the construction of the suburb allows for a certain amount of parkland then the value of the surrounding land will be higher, it is a formula and that often frustrates me. It seems nothing in this world is done out of love, the people that designed Varsity Lakes didnt make it amazing because they thought i would be a nice gift to the GC, they did it to make money.

It's the same with alot of music, at some point most popular music stops being art and becomes a product. The point i'm trying to make is that its rare for people to do good things out of love, things in this world are mostly driven by selfish desire.

Okay i think i've made my point, i'm going to stop being negative now.
I honestly believe that God is the source of all good. What makes a selfish person be selfless? It's God. This holy spirit we've been injected with makes people do the craziest things and that creates a ripple effect.

A friend once said to me that everytime he walks through a checkout line at the supermarket he makes sure to try and cheer up the checkout chick because if he can get her smiling, she will then beam a huge smile back at all the customers she gets after him, improving their days. It is such a small example but i love it.

It's funny how one devine revelation, one good thought planted by God can produce so much good...