Monthly Archives: August 2013

Unexpected

SO apparently, the creator of the Slinky® was incredible wealthy at a young age and then left his wife and 6 children for a cult.

Those of you that know me know that I’ve grown tired of zingers and one-liners due to their overuse, but, I must admit that this opener was undeniable.

This morning, on my walk home from work, I was very tired. I got to my street for the homestretch and I could feel the cotton sheets caressing my face in my subconscious. Just then, a white man walked up to me.

 “You look like you’re dressed for an interview!”, the man said, quite jovially.

“I’m actually on my way home from work.” I wasn’t trying to show that I really wanted to go because he’d went out of his way to come and talk to me.

His name is Bob Swaim, and I had no idea how big a deal he was until I Googled him a second ago.

Bob is about 5’10”, white haired, bushy eyebrowed dude who falls somewhere in between typical Central Pennsylvanian and Southern Gentleman, aesthetically. Bob disclosed to me that he was a bike collector (see link above) and was in town for PSU’s Ag Progress Days. After suggesting that I check that out, he asked me questions about my job and I told him I was a night auditor. 

“I bet you have all sorts of stories then, huh?” He let out a sincere chuckle. “I have a friend who’s a funeral director and he wrote a blog about it. It’s hilarious! He’s got a couple stories of his own.”

His friend’s name is Caleb Wilde and his blog is here, if you wanted to check it out. Looks interesting to me.

Bob went on talking to me and asking me questions and alluding to the fact that he thought I was a business student. As tired as I was, I found myself sort of warming up to this strange man. He’d engage me in something that seemed so alien but felt so right – a face to face conversation with a stranger.

We got to a point in the conversation where we were talking about where I’d come from, and he took particular interest in my background, asking me about my interest in communications media.

“So, is that like TV and radio stuff? I guess it’s everything, haha!”, Bob said.

“Actually I’m moreso interested in audio engineering. This hotel gig is more transitional.”, I replied.

The next part rocked me.

“That’s good. It’s better to struggle for a long time and then be successful. If you don’t struggle a while, you won’t have any foundation.”

My interest was piqued. Where did that come from?, I thought. I’ve been having a rough week and struggle was really weighing me down. This is why I love old people. No offense, Bob, I think you’re awesome.

“Say you were given a couple million dollars right now, Vince. It would probably ruin your life.” I was still listening. “That’s just like the guy who invented the Slinky. He was about 28 years old when he got rich off of that thing. He ended up leaving his wife and six kids for a cult. Crazy, right?” Indeed it was. 

“It’s really better to struggle all your life and THEN be successful. If you gain success too early, you won’t be grounded. It was nice meeting you, Vince! Have a good one.”

He walked away. Maybe he knew, maybe he didn’t, but he encouraged me so much this morning. It’s funny/sad that this man striking up a friendly conversation with me is odd. I’m really glad I opened up to it though. God truly used him, with tact and precision, simply to encourage me to continue to go through what I am going through. I’m amazed.

To quote my awesome roomate, Mike Swanson:

“You act surprised, but you shouldn’t be.”

I hear you, God.

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Post-Angst Angst, Part II

I’ve been feeling this way for a while now.

I feel like I’m missing out on quite a few things. My personal life is spiraling and I don’t know what to do about it. When I say ‘personal life’ I mean the content of my character. Got a job. Attending church. People love me. God is good. But life is harder than it looks.

Have I been so drawn away from God that I’m not as excited about God as everyone else? Am I losing all semblance of sanctification in my life? It sure does feel like it.

But God is there. No, He’s here. And He sees me. Even in this angst. Even in my inconsistency. He sees me.

I was talking to a friend earlier this week and he encouraged me with the following statement:

“…you’re not crazy, you’re just going to a new level of faith.”

This impacts me deeply, still. Even in my angst. Even in my shortcomings.

“…no matter what it takes/i’ll make sure that you’ll find, you’ll find your way/I know how hard you been trying, little one…”  – Bilal, Little One

On Tuesday, I got together with a group of mid-twenties/early thirties from my church, as we do regularly, and our pastors were there. This weeks topic of discussion was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The pastor highlighted a few pertinent things in this story. One thing was the fact that God is always in control, but doesn’t intervene in every situation. This enlivens Romans 8:28 in my heart.

Romans 8:28 NLT

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God is not to blame for all the bad stuff that happens to me. A lot of that is my choices. But the verse doesn’t say that God causes every little thing to happen. It just says that He takes every little thing that happens and makes purpose out of it for the ones that love Him. Now, that’s incredible.

God sees me. God sees me and knows me. God wants to redeem every place I’ve been and every thing I’ve gone through. So sometimes, He allows me to be in angst…if that’s what it takes for me to invite Him in.

Remember teenage angst? Yea, me neither, but whatever happened in those years, God gave purpose to it in order to benefit you and me. Same goes for post-angst angst.

Good day, truly.

Post-Angst Angst

Let me just start off by saying this:

My life is my fault.

Moving right along…

Tye Tribbett (for those of you who may not know him) is a gospel artist who’s been on the scene since the early 90’s. Many, in black church circles at the VERY least,  consider him to be this generations greatest musical mind. I’m willing, personally, to say that at a few different points, his music has changed my life.

Due to tragedy in his life (which I won’t be getting into at all), he took a big blow to his ministry and things seemed to be falling apart. After some time away from putting out music, though, redemption swept into his life and he began putting out music again. He released a new album and, to the chagrin of many, it failed a lot if expectations. The new album was indeed incredible, but his previous works have been lauded by a great number of folks to be far and above this new album. Since the point of his tragedy, his music was not the same. It wasn’t the quality that diminished…it was something else.

Yesterday or so, Tye Tribbett released another album, entitled Greater Than, an ode to God superiority to everything else. Per usual, I didn’t hear the album immediately. I usually let the air clear a bit on new music, as to not cloud my own reception and experience of it. Based on what people were saying and how people were reacting about it so far, it was as stupendous a work as his pre-tragedy music. This was the reaction by and large for the first day it was released. The second day is when I decided to listen for myself.

Just before that thought, there were some comments made from some musical minds/close friends that gave me pause. One person said that they couldn’t get past the second song. For those of you who know Tye’s work, this sounds like a pure travesty. But this was someone whose musical opinion I trust. Shortly thereafter, a second opinion from a trusted source surfaced and with not much good to say about the album. It was time for me to check it out for myself.

Upon my first listen through, I found the album to be very good. But, when it comes to Tye Tribbett, “very good” isn’t saying much. Am I holding him to a higher standard of music making? Of course I am. You’d do the same if Michael Jackson were in a high school talent show…that’s how great a musical mind Tye Tribbett is. With that being said I cannot say with any form of conviction that I am impressed with Greater Than. His first album after the tragedy got the same response from me, but over time that album grew on me. Maybe such is the case for Greater Than.

Meanwhile… seemingly everyone I know and a lot of other musicians, singers and musical minds I trust think the album is amazing. For some reason, I feel very itchingly that I am missing something.

Believe it or not, everything written before this line was set up for everything written after it. Bear with me, if it suits you.

Remember about an hour ago, I prefaced this blog post with the statement that my life is my fault? Yea, its a faint memory to me too. Here comes the boom:

I feel very strongly that I don’t love God enough to enjoy this album as much as my counterparts have. I also feel very strongly that currently, my personal and spiritual life is in shambles. That’s a direct correlation in my psyche.

I arrived at this by comparing my life to those that I percieve to be leading better lives than myself, which I know I probably shouldn’t do. But I am doing it. I just want to paint as honest a picture as possible.

Well, then…is it true?

Part II coming sooner than you think.