In the same vein as the previous post, here are the attributes I'm asking the Lord to bring out in me, and show me how to become like Him. I know I'll never be perfect, but if I could, I wouldn't need Him :)
A servant to all
I'm sure there are others that I need. If any spiritually mature brothers or sisters in Christ know of a Biblical quality that I'm lacking, please comment/contact me.
I was recently encouraged by someone at church who has been counseling me in my search for my wife to write down all the attributes I'm looking for and commit them to God. I don't believe this will be the final list, but I do think this covers a lot of what is required. The characteristics in the list below aren't a matter of personal preference, they're non-negotiable. This isn't to say I don't have work to do in the following categories, but I know that my wife will be:
Willing to serve others first
Has a good, loving relationship with her family
A hard worker
Of noble character
If anyone reading this has additional suggestions based on Biblical principles or life experiences, please comment or contact me in some fashion.
Not too many things are capable of eliciting a deep emotional reaction from me. Sometimes I worry about whether that's normal. I do feel. I get angry, sad, happy, etc. But am I ever moved? Rarely. If it isn't spiritually related, I can count on one hand how many times I've truly "felt."
Two of those times where when I heard these songs for the first time. And for the second song, it still moves me, but just not quite as much as the first time.
The first song is Crawling by Linkin Park. This is the version they did on their remix album Reanimation.
The second is The Voice by Celtic Woman. This is the only song that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Doesn't matter when or where, but it will happen. The only thing that I can relate it to so it makes sense in my mind is the concept of one's true name from the Inheritance Cycle. In that world, you have your given name, and your true name. Your true name is a word or phrase that perfectly defines who you are, and if you can discover it you can achieve self-mastery. But if someone finds it out before you, they need but speak it to you and they will have complete control over you.
This song is like that for me. When I hear it, I hear me. I hear my soul crying out to God. I see every conflict in my life. I see my past and the mistakes I've made. Maybe this song won't mean anything to you. But it means more to me than I can adequately explain.
In the last few months I've gotten into the anime series Dragon Ball and it's more widely known sequel, Dragon Ball Z. There are a lot of things I enjoy about the show, mainly the diverse characters and outlandish universe the show takes place in. I love the over-the-top action, the unique soundtrack, the serial nature of the show, and the occasionally off English translation. I will freely acknowledge the absurdity that takes place in the show, but that in itself is part of the charm. It is escapism, pure and simple. For twenty minutes at a time, I am removed from the confines of what is and is not possible in this world. I am transported to a universe where someone with skill and discipline can channel their own energy and do things beyond the capabilities of normal men. Below, I will list three of the main characters and my thoughts about them. Mostly how their characters relate to me and how I perceive them.
Our main hero and protagonist of the Dragon ball franchise. He has a strong moral code and sense of ethics I find admirable, but he takes part of his code so far that it endangers others. He is strong, brave, and willing risk his life for any of his friends. However, his hero status doesn't prevent him from being incredibly stupid on several occasions. Where I identify with him apart from having strong ethical codes is his love for martial arts and combat. Goku has one interest in life apart from family and friends and it is centered around being the best fighter in the world. He trains not to dominate others, but just because he loves training and competing. In several instances, Goku says just how much he's looking forward to a fight, even when circumstances are dire. I am not a professional fighter, nor do I train like one, but I have felt part of what he feels during a fight. The thrill of combat, knowing that the person facing him is going to try to hit him, participating in the oldest form of competition: fighting.
During the first saga of Dragon Ball Z, he is the primary antagonist threatening the Earth. As the series progresses, he becomes less of an out-and-out villain and transforms into an anti-hero. The main trait that I admire in this character is his crystal clear sense of purpose. As the prince of the Saiyan race, he truly believes it is his destiny to be the greatest warrior in the universe, and he will do absolutely ANYTHING to achieve his goal. His sense of dedication to completing what he believes is his purpose is admirable, if misguided. Also, his theme music is AWESOME
Overall, Piccolo is probably the character that I have the most in common with. Not on a philosophical level, but in the areas of attitude, personality, and physicality. He is brusque, tough, intimidating, dangerous, and on occasion, a snarker. After the events of Dragon Ball, he removes himself from civilization and dedicates his life to meditation and training. Truth be told, if money were not a necessity, and I could acquire everything I needed to survive, I would just as soon live in a cabin in the mountains and do the same. Meditate on God's Word, meditate on how to improve myself, and train my body to it's maximum potential. That life doesn't sound half bad to me.
As of this moment I am on episode 121 of Dragon Ball Z and episode 14 of Dragon Ball, so there's plenty more time for me to see these characters develop and grow, which is quickly becoming the main draw of the show. I realize this is common of many TV shows, but it's the truth. There's at least one other blog post forthcoming that is related to the show, but I don't know when that one will be written. Hopefully, not too far in the future.
It's hard to summarize almost a year's worth of growth, especially in the realm of spirituality where it is a day-to-day, minute-to-minute battle. I can't really organize my thoughts categorically and I doubt I'll be able to do it chronologically, so this post will likely move from topic to topic.
Throughout my early teenage years to about a year ago, I've been attempting to incorporate a daily devotion into my schedule. During high school this barely ever actually happened, and my freshman year of college wasn't much better. Not surprisingly, my spiritual growth sputtered. I was entirely self-sufficient (at least I thought I was) and consoled myself with the thought that God's grace would cover everything, so I could always repent later and He and I would be okay. While I firmly believe in God's grace, continuing to live life as if nothing had changed is the exact opposite of the reason Jesus came to save us in the first place. For an exposition on the topic of grace, and why I believe what I believe about grace, click here (Greg Mathis/ Student Led Renewal).
I can't pinpoint the exact moment that I chose to make a change, but at that moment I knew that I wasn't living the way I was supposed to. I wasn't committing what most people would consider great and evil sins, but the more subtle and deceptive variety. The first thing I did was rededicate my life to the Lord and asked that through His strength I would live a life transformed. That I would not try to use my own strength or wisdom, but rely on His and His alone. Once I made this decision, the next thing I did was to incorporate a daily devotion consisting of three elements:
A daily entry from a devotional book
Reading at least one chapter from the Bible
Do all of this first thing in the morning. Before food, breakfast, shower-anything.
During my prayer time, I ask God for several things each day. The first is that He would supply me with strength to meet the challenges of the day, and not challenges to meet my strength. The second is for Him to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. The third is that He would give me the heart of a servant, and show me what it looks like to be totally concerned with serving others first. I also pray for the specific needs of friends and family that I have been made aware of. I pray that my eyes, ears, and spirit would be opened to the Word that I am about to read, and that God would show me something new about Himself, about me, or how I can better serve my brothers and sisters. Lastly, I thank God for the multitude of blessings He has poured out on my life, regardless of what happened the day before, or any anxiety I feel that morning. No matter the circumstances, I remain blessed beyond what I could possibly deserve.
The devotion book I read is called Unto the Hills by Billy Graham. It takes no more than five minutes to read and has wonderful examples of applying Scripture to daily life. For the most part, it is application rather than doctrinal theory, which I appreciate since I am no Biblical scholar.
For my Bible reading, I began in Psalms and I am still working through that book. As of this writing, I am on Psalm 114. Many times, there is a specific verse that I will incorporate into my prayer, such as, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (Psalm 91). Once I finish Psalms, I plan to move onto Proverbs, due to the great wisdom in that book, wisdom I know I will need.
I can say with complete confidence that the daily quiet time I've been having for a year now has impacted my life. No matter how bad my day is, I am reassured that God is still in control, and that He loves me dearly. This isn't to say life has been perfect. Far from it. Storms have come and gone, even now I am weathering one with the knowledge that Christ is allowing me to walk through this and will be for my benefit in the end. For the daily struggles, the ones that come minute-to-minute, and can well up from just a glance, I have taken to offering them up to God. I'm doing my best to take the term, "Pray without ceasing" as literally as possible. When the temptation inevitably comes, I offer my sinful thoughts up to Him and ask for the strength to resist so that I might glorify God with every aspect of my life.
Again, my life is far from perfect, but I know that I have grown spiritually, and that my relationship with my Savior will only become sweeter and more intimate the more I devote my time and effort to it.
I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, insights, and guidance from those who see this. Especially from adults who have, "been there, done that" spiritually.
It has been a long time since I wrote here. This is just as well, since I've changed significantly.
That is why I have deleted all previous posts.
I will endeavor to write on what I'm feeling, doing, and experiencing faithfully again.
Be it spiritual development, entertainment, physical activity, academic, or work related,
I'll express my thoughts on it here.
No guarantees that it will make sense to anyone but me.