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)?

Openness

You don’t like those fake people, right? Those that try real hard to be something they’re obviously not. The ones that smile at you and then talk behind your back. You know, those people who are just like you.

I’m fake, aren’t you? Sure, you may not be as fake as Jenna or Steve who are seriously gonna be praying for ya (you go, gurl!). But don’t we all wear this mask to hide those smaller or larger imperfections we just can’t stand and wish we didn’t have.

That’s not a bad thing, is it? I mean, it is great that we are trying to better our selves. One implication may be that we have to know ourselves before we decide there is something that must change. This is not necessarily true, and even if it were, it could just go away the more we wear our meticulously crafted masks.

You may not know yourself, you pick your favorite from the self store. You’ll get tired of wearing a self that’s not yourself, I suppose. So, what do you do then? Is your self somewhere inside or were you meant to develop it?

Shouldn’t we take the time to know ourselves, to know who we are—our noble ambitions, our bad habits, our reprehensible desires? Isn’t this the only way our self can truly engage in honest interactions with other selves?

I understand the need to wear a mask. Perhaps it is the ideal self I aspire to be. However, I believe it can only work if it represents myself instead of someone else’s self, like a lake gives you an accurate, yet somewhat blurry, reflection.

The more I think about it, the more I begin to think I’m talking about my own condition. I’m that fake person I don’t want to be.

If only I could show myself as I am—but then you might not like me, would you? So I show you my reflection, the one I’m talking to now.