Filling Up Halfway

A couple days ago I stopped at a gas station to refill my tank when I saw the yellow light on my dashboard turn on. I pulled up to the pump and waited for the screen to hit $15 before removing the nozzle. The tank usually fills up with about $30, but I’ve been planning on paying off the balance on my credit card so I can pay for gas with it and get those precious cash back rewards. This has actually already happened twice, in a row. So, with better planning I could have filled up the first time and gotten my rewards.

Oh, well. That’s really not that important.

This may be a silly illustration (it definitely is), but it captures quite well how my mood has been. How my spiritual life has stagnated. How my soul consistently runs on half a tank. And it’s been a while. Too long, really.

Last night, as soon as I got home and put my backpack on the floor, I sat down on the couch and turned on the Xbox to play some FIFA. I was tired, but more than that, I felt empty. When my roommate walked in and said, “You look dead,” I couldn’t help but half-smile and assent. That had been my mood for most of the week. Just going through the motions, trying to find something but not knowing exactly what. My tank running on fumes for a couple days, I needed to find something, but really, I didn’t even want to try at that point.

Every week the story repeats to some extent. I get to Friday night intellectually and emotionally exhausted. Part of me looking forward to reading spiritual/religious books, doing some personal writing, playing clarinet, somehow getting closer to God; the other part staying in bed stressing out about how to best recharge during the remaining Sabbath hours and being so paralyzed that usually not much recharging happens.

To be fair, I do fill up some of my tank. Setting aside and forgetting about any and all schoolwork for the Sabbath is tremendously liberating. It’s the time I can best disconnect from the need of doing—although I can easily end up substituting for other kinds of doing. When the sun sets on Saturday and Sabbath is over, I find myself ready for the week only to find out a couple days later my tank was only half full.

See, Sabbath is a huge blessing, but I just can’t seem to figure out how to recharge. Am I even supposed to figure it out? How much effort should I put in before it all becomes about how well I can perform and then it’s no different from how everything else around me works?

I feel lost in my spiritual practice—if I can even say I have such a thing right now. I often leave church feeling emptier, more upset and frustrated. And I’m just not sure what I need.

This helps. Writing about it. Sharing what’s going on, even if it all comes out as mumble jumble. I will keep looking, trying, searching, and staying still. It’s not about religionand it’s not about correct Sabbath-keeping, although rituals (spiritual practices) can certainly help. I want to better understand how to be present and aware of my place in and connection with a deeper reality.

Sabbath ended not long ago. I hope next time I stop at the gas station, I can fill up the tank all the way.

#022 – Honest and Self-revealing

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Slade and I have been spending quite a bit of time attempting to read at our local coffee shop, but we just end up talking whenever we run into each other. We decided to talk for the podcast about some of the Christian books we’ve read—or more specifically, just me ranting about an “honest and self-revealing” book I read. Enjoy!

This episode contains some explicit language.

This was our new set up! How does it sound (and look)?

Blogging, honest sharing

I have not written in a while. Usually, every Sabbath I would make time to write. For some months, I had been quite consistent I was even surprising myself I had been able to keep up with the blog and the podcast. All that fell apart in the last month, though.

As grad school applications deadlines got closer and the end of the semester approached, I was overwhelmed with all the work that needed to get done. Every week when Sabbath came, I didn’t feel like writing. I was burned out, both physically and emotionally.

I definitely thought about writing, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything that wasn’t about all the work I had. Sure, I started some drafts on some interesting thoughts I still plan to share, but at the moment it felt like to much work. I first had to work some things out in my life before I could write about these other topics.

Even now that the semester is over, I still feel like finishing those drafts require a little bit of lying to myself. It doesn’t make a lot of sense since I still think about those things quite often. Yet, it makes sense when I open my computer and try typing. It feels dishonest.

All this talk leads me to the purpose of this blog. I want to be honest, but how honest can I be? On his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King wrote, “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

Is that really the condition for truthful writing? I’m not ready to give up my membership for the polite society, but I do want honesty.

I don’t want to talk about myself, but I sometimes need to before I can move on to things that are worth your time.

I want to question love in a serious way. I want to ask whether we lie to ourselves and other when we say we can do whatever we put our minds to. I want to point out the shortcomings of the groups I consider myself part of (at least kind of sympathize with) such as Christianity, Seventh-day Adventism, and the left with all its oft-petty activism.

I want to call you ignorant and close-minded when you behave like a jerk, asshole, or prick—depends on which one offends you the most.

And I want you to hold me to the same standards, because, as anyone who knows me knows, I can be all those things thanks to a superiority complex I can’t seem to get rid of.

If this doesn’t make much sense, I’m sorry. I guess I’m recovering from a tough semester.