Thanks To A Friend

A friend of mine emailed me this afternoon. I saw it when I got home from church and frankly, it was one of the most touching emails I’d read. This friend said so many things that were bluntly honest about how they saw me and those kinds of emails really make you sit back and think some. Are you really seen that way? Are you really making that much of a difference?

My friend said great words of admiration and I’m the type of guy who honestly doesn’t see it, but maybe I should. We’ve talked a lot about perfectionism and maybe sometimes we need to realize that it’s okay to accept compliments. It’s okay to accept them because there’s a chance that they could be true. As long as you have a true view of yourself, what is the harm?

My friend described me as passionate. I find this odd because to be frank dear readers, I don’t find a lot of passion in my life at times and that does bother me. Yet I wonder, where did I get the idea that this Christian life was supposed to be a life of non-stop passion? Now there are times passion does strike. We had Mormons at our apartment several weeks ago. They’re still visiting weekly by the way. One week, we got into the Trinity. I was in another world. I was getting more and more excited and others would say I started talking faster and faster. The Trinity excites me and yet as I think now, I don’t feel much passion. Of course, it could be passion is more related to activity. I’m not really sure.

If you were to think I wake up every day with a burning desire to be like Christ, preach the gospel, and read an apologetics book, you’d be wrong. I wake up most days thinking “Why do I have to go to work today?” I’m the type that if I don’t have to work that day or do anything immediately, I can lie in bed for awhile and hope that I’ll go back to sleep even though I know from experience that I won’t.

I was also described as someone willing to serve. I say this not to exalt myself really. I just want my readers to get a look into my world. Maybe they’ll find this hero they have is more like them than they realize if they see me as a model to be emulated. One idea I’ve had is to destroy the idea of a super Christian type and show everyone I’m just like them in many ways.

Now if people come to me with a problem, I do help. There are many times I don’t want to help. There are many times I’d frankly rather be doing something else. Still, I do try to do what I can. I just see it as my duty. Helping people is not something that you do just because you feel like it. It’s something that you do because it’s the right thing to do.

I’d like to say I’m more focused also, but there are times it is hard to think about the heavy issues. My mind gets stuck with a song instead for instance and I can spend several hours singing one song to myself. I could be thinking about the problem of evil or how knowledge comes through our senses or the interrelations within the Trinity, but my mind is stuck on something else and can’t seem to shake it. Of course, I have to realize that could be more normal for even great Christian thinkers than I realize.

Am I one who is trained? Now that’s another question. I’ll go on and tell my readers that I had very little in philosophical training in Bible College. I had one class that introduced me to Ron Nash and that was what really got me going. In High School, it was zilch and I had no idea this kind of stuff even existed in High School. By this kind of stuff, I mean apologetics. I went to Bible College and found out about it and found my home.

What did I do? I went to bookstores and bought books, books, and more books and devoured all I could. I’ve been to the apologetics conference for seven years straight in a row and easily spend $100 every time. I’ve got several CDs and MP3s on various topics and often times, I’ll sit here and play a game and at the same time be listening to an MP3 on a topic.

Now, I do have a sizable library where it’s been compared to a master monk spending all his time in studies. People have that opinion of me, but I frankly think I could study more. I find it hard to sit down and focus myself to read, though I have been doing that more often. My mind can tend to wander as I read and go off on various tangents. It’s a problem with focus. I’m never on one argument at once. I’m thinking of a few of them.

Also, don’t think I’m the type please that spends all my time in an ivory tower. I take time off for the Wii, for Smallville, for House, for Monk, for going to the ice cream parlor, for going to the pool even though I can’t swim, etc. Like I’ve said, it’s very difficult for me to sit down and actually study. I seem to learn best simply by arguing the things I’ve read.

Well, I kind of got off topic. My point was that I didn’t really get much learning on these issues until I came to Seminary and even then, I came prepared. When someone made a statement once about Plato teaching the idea of God becoming a man and trying to say that’s how the Trinity came, I decided to then take C.S. Lewis’s advice. “Read Plato. Not books about Plato.” So I ordered the Complete Works of Plato and for Aristotle, I found his basic works and read both of them.

For the study of the ancients, rather than just read modern writers, I ordered Plutarch and Tacitus and read them. I have a copy of Josephus and I must confess that I have not read through it yet. I am also reading through holy books of other faiths in an attempt to better understand them. There’s so much knowledge out there to learn.

That’s another thing. It can make one feel small in comparison. I look out there and see that there’s so much that I don’t know and get intimidated. It’s amazing how we focus on our lacks instead of our abilities. I got back some papers from class today and frankly, I passed with flying colors, but instead of looking at that, I’m looking at the mistakes I made.

I know many see me as Christ-like. I would hope so, but I am deeply aware of sins in my present life and sins in my past life. I am aware of many phobias and such that I have that I don’t think it glorifies Christ for me to have and want to change and in many cases, I simply aren’t sure how to do it at this point. I anticipate further counseling but let me say if you have a hang-up in your life, you are not alone. We all have some struggle.

I am told also that I keep busy and do my work still. I am in Seminary, help manage a forum, study for class, work a full-time job, write a blog every night, and now I have Mormons over regularly. In addition, before too long, I’ll be working with a group here going to area churches and putting on apologetics seminars and getting interest in that. Last semester, I was working at the library at the same time.

How do I do it? I have no idea. Since I’ve studied more though this Summer, the time seems to be more available which is quite odd. I simply believe I am doing what I can and I will see the fruit at a later time. I believe it’s good to ignore my insecurities and simply focus on doing the tasks at hand and working my way through them.

I believe humble was a way I was described also. This one amazes me. In some ways, I see myself as incredibly arrogant. I wonder if it’s not arrogance though but reality. When I look at apologetics, it’s a way of saving the world and that’s one of my goals. I want to go out there and fight the evils. I grew up with video games and TV shows and stories of good vs. evil. Now I find that that is more of a reality than I realized and it’s in the conflict of worldviews.

A skeptic once found me arrogant because I see a lot of myself in Clark Kent in Smallville. They misunderstood though. I see myself simply as one with unique gifts, but also with unique weaknesses. (There are some things I swear I react to the way he reacts to Kryptonite.) I want to be like everyone else though and just do what I can. When I see many of the issues Clark goes through on the show, I understand where they’re coming from. John Schneider who played the role of Clark’s father once compared Clark to a special needs child. When you think about that, it’s accurate. Even children with great gifts need special handling. If you watch the show, you realize Clark’s life isn’t grand just because he’s Superman. He’s got a lot of struggles that you’d never consider. (I urge people to listen to the song “Superman” by Five for Fighting.”)

My friend had a desire to be like me, and in an odd way, I have a desire to be like others more. I often think when people say something “I should have known that.” I too wonder where they get their learning. Of course, it could be they had more socializing than I had growing up and just learned a lot from casual conversation that I missed out on. I don’t know for sure.

My friend is someone incredible in his own right though. He may not see it, but it’s because of people like him that I do go on. When I receive commendation from someone like that, it makes me think “Maybe you are being too hard on yourself.” I’ve told another friend that I may be a fighter in this game, but no fighter fights forever. When he goes back to the camp, he needs the clerics there to heal him from all of his wounds, and a role like this certainly gives you some.”

My fear is that a post like this will be seen as arrogant. It’s not intended to be, but there are times I think I have to show you all who I am as well. I would hope I’m one with great intelligence. I would hope I’m one with a deep love for God. I would hope I’m one who is humble and well-read and able to deal with those on the other side.

It could be my good friend is right, and I pray I am. I do know this for sure though. I am but a man. I may switch from being a child in my eyes to being a great hero on the side of the good, but at the end of the day, I’m just me. I also will say that I could not do this without my friends. I have a small group here that is local and helps keep me going. I have to have them in order to make it.

Well, that’s me for today. Again, I hope no one took this the wrong way. If so, do let me know. I’d want to correct it after all. My main hope is that you’ll realize that even if you want to emulate me, and if doing so will help you be more like Christ, then go for it, realize still that I am flesh and blood. I appreciate my friend for his email and for his companionship. It will give me much to think about. Good friend. I do treasure your friendship and I am glad you are on our side.

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