There are few things as powerful as when rest finally, truly, really hits you.
I was driving home in the car today after seeing Looper, a movie that (despite a bit of nudity, which may be offensive to some of you) I highly recommend. The movie was incredible, and the symbols powerful. It’s one of those movies that you leave still thinking about, still feeling. I can’t totally explain what was going on inside me at that moment, but wheels were turning…
This year, a lot has happened. In the last three months or so, a lot more has happened. My faith has been rather immovable, but all my other foundations have been shaken a bit. Some idols have been falling, some humbling has been happening, and some “stress” has been manifesting. In this whole process, I haven’t really had even the time to slow down to actually process. But sometimes, the processing finds you anyway.
Sunday night, 7pm, two weeks ago, at a hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina:
Two percent. I can’t get the number out of my head. Two percent become pro athletes. Two percent become millionaires. Two percent become A list actors…. Two percent become powerful, world changing Christians… Sometimes less…
I lay there thinking about how few people ever reach their potential. How many millions of people could become something great, but choose to never do so. I wanted to fix it, but I knew I couldn’t. The tension was so painful. Then, I began to cry. I began to mourn for the 98%. Sometimes, processing finds you…
This past Friday, 8pm, in the parking lot of my apartment complex
“Look Mom, I have no choice! If I don’t keep doing all this, my life falls apart! I have a car payment now, because my old car decided it was done working, and I had to have a car to make it to work so I can pay rent! So now I have a car payment and a rent payment! I’m stuck at a job I have to go to, that I used to love but now drives me crazy because it’s so early in the morning, I’m working 15 hour days, and on top of all that I have to take care of our dog now! Not to mention all the papers I have to write. I’m already late on two of them! Trust God? Seriously? I’m trusting God! I’m trusting that He will give me whatever I need so that I don’t keel over and die from all this crap I have to deal with! Don’t tell me to trust God; I’m trusting!”
After about another 45 minutes, I realized I wasn’t trusting. I was panicking. My mom continued to coax me out of my worry and into trust…
“Honey, look at our life. Your Father and I have been through some pretty hard situations, some of them where it looked like we would end up homeless, but God always provides. He never leaves us without, and you know that more than anybody. You’ve believed this for years, but now it’s not someone elses money. Now it’s your turn to be tested to see whether you truly do trust. You are being tested, but you won’t be like I was. You won’t go around the mountain over and over again, because you’ll see that God provides, and you’ll learn your lesson. You don’t have to panic. You aren’t going to lose everything. You just need to trust…”
Driving home, tonight, 10:15 pm
Processing finds you. I was thinking about all these things. All the things I’ve been through recently. All the pain, heartache, sorrow. I was thinking about how the money has come in, how I just made my first car payment and the money was there to do it. How my dog got sick over the weekend, but (with my mom’s help via a panicked phone call) I handled it. She’s healthy and happy once again. I was thinking about my friendships, and how I’m learning to balance an insane work schedule with maintaining my connection to those who matter most to me. How Heather and Harrison got married, and everything worked out ok. How Esther keeps worrying and getting overwhelmed, but I know she’ll figure it out. How Chris is a really good guy, and he really does care about me and want to be friends. I was feeling the fresh warmth of Saturday’s wedding, seeing almost all my closest friends together in one place. And how Joe really did make the right choice and change the future…And that’s when it hit me…
It really is all going to be ok.
I thought I believed that, thought I knew it, but in that moment I realized I never really knew it in my heart.
I saw myself over the rest of the year, writing papers, building a national business, learning incredible things in this last year of school, and loving the friends and family I love with the quality time they deserve. I saw the sacrifices and the maturity and the man I will become, and I began to sob. Really, it really, really, is all going to be ok. I felt it in my gut. My whole being knew. I’m going to be ok. And somehow, in that realization, I knew I had just become Karsten.
Not Karsten the boy, or Karsten the college student trying to discover who he is, but Karsten the man. I for the first time, could see who I really am designed to be, and that that is exactly who I’m becoming. I felt like I was finally emerging from this dark, chaotic cocoon where I only wondered if somehow I could really ever get out. If I really did have the wings I was promised. But there I was, driving my new car that I could afford, living on my own in a house I am making rent on, taking care of another life every day, and finding the time for the people I love. I saw myself. I really am ok. It really is good.
For the last few months, when people ask me how I’ve been, or what life has been like, I’ve been telling them it has been “productive.” I think we are afraid of that word, because it sounds so cold and so empty. It’s as if we are simply a machine, meant to produce, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Because I realized one key thing– the thing I’m producing is myself.
There is a plan for each of us. A potential within us that we are all destined to reach, if we simply start the process. We are all meant to be the 2 percent, but being productive comes at a cost. You may have to sacrifice the things you love most to become the person that can love those things as you were designed to. The strange paradox lies here: sacrifice your life, and you will save it, lose your life, and you will find it. All this time I thought that had some great unknowable mysterious meaning to it; something poetic about losing yourself in the great abyss of God or whatever… but I don’t think it’s really like that. Maybe somewhere within ourselves, we really do know who we are meant to be, and that itch in us is begging us to become ourselves. Maybe we just have to take that cost and start growing to become that. Maybe losing yourself really means letting go of what makes you comfortable to become what makes you great. There is greatness within you, but are you willing to pay the cost? Will you sit on your ass and let the world pass you buy, holding onto a hollow existence that you know could be more, or will you choose to go through a painful, ugly, messy, difficult, stressful season that is “productive?” I promise you that if you don’t run from it, if you choose it and embrace it, it will only be a season. It takes this season for you to truly enter rest. It takes this chaos for you to become unshakable, so that you can say along with Paul “I have learned the secret to being content in every situation. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Oh, and even during that season, know that it really is all going to be ok. You won’t die, you won’t be destroyed (although you probably will break; it takes some breaking to get out of that cocoon) and you will become your destiny. You will finally enter rest.
The only question is, will you pay the cost?
To those of you that read my blog regularly, I apologize for the long wait between posts. I wrote this post in part to help you see why my page has been so dry lately in terms of content, and more so because this post is true. I want you to know something about me right now, so that from this day forward you won’t have to wonder. I’m one of the most loyal people you will ever meet. If I commit to something, you can be sure that that commitment will stand. I’m also the most honest person you will ever meet. I strive to never bull— anyone, and to honor God and man by only presenting truth in all I say and do. With that in mind, sometimes I don’t post on purpose. I have quite a number of half finished posts that have never gone up because they didn’t feel right. I could have finished them and given you something to read, but I refuse. I’m too committed to being the best writer I can be, and I know that if it doesn’t flow, it isn’t ready. I’m also too committed to my cause: to present you with life changing content. I will only post something if I truly believe it has the potential to change the world. I refuse to post content to grow my reader base, despite how tempting it may be to do so. I want you to know that I never forget about you, and I never give up. If you don’t hear from me, my blog is not dead, it is growing. It is becoming what it needs to be within me as a person so that the next post will continue to be every bit as good as the others. It is being shaped in me so that it can transform you. If you miss me, and want to hear from me, please contact me via my fb page and I will gladly talk to you whenever I can, but also know that if there are no posts for awhile, God is working on me and I’m growing. Feel free to pray for me in those times, so that I will continue to walk into all of the purpose and identity that I am destined for. I thank you so much for your concern, and for your faithful listening ears. Know that I will do my very best to keep honoring you in all that I post. Thank you, and Goodnight.