How music is teaching me to feel Category:Life Views:
with this blog i get into the nitty gritty of my life, it may be painful... because its hard for people to know who i am or how i act (and therefore take an interest in me as a person) when the only hint of my identity you have is what i blog or post about...
a huge issue ive always struggled with in life is my seeming inability to feel much emotion.
i got really good at going through the motions and even convincing people i felt joy, hope, pain, anger, etc... but i never thought it was usefull to actually 'feel' because i saw what it did to other people and i wanted some sort of stability and control. honestly, i didnt much point in emotion because from what i saw there was always a high followed by a horrible low... i didnt want to put myself through that kind of rollercoaster (not to mention open up to the public so they could ridicule the kind of person i was).
well, this has its benifits, i avoided alot of politics in life. but it also means i didnt experience hope, joy or happiness. only contentment or tension... a big issue that followed that was the fact that when people saw how i acted, they asumed the only thing they could, i must have been manic depressive or just plain boring... and honestly, i was (boring). i was killing myself through lack of actual fellowship... i didnt find it important to get to know people because i thought emotions were generally useless and so i closed myself off from people who expressed alot of emotion. well i closed myself off from the majority of the world, so the lack of friends led to a lack of reason to live and well... my testimony tells that story.
enter music. before i got into the military, i passed off christian music as poorly produced and having an overall bad quality. so i choose to listen to more popular secular music a good part of my life. i would also listen to alot of talk radio.
but when i got involved with the navigator ministry, my view of Christianity changed my priorities so radically that i decided to give christian music another try, at first, i listened to it on the radio. ( luckily they have a good christian radio station in tennesse / kentucky where i was stationed)
and i was content with that for a while, untill i heard a song off of the jars of clay album good monsters called work. i instantly related to it, because i was going through the same things... losing care for life but forcing myself to live for God. it effected me deeply so i went online and bought the entire album and i wasent dissapointed at all, so i dug back in my memory to bands i used to hear about and bought their albums. and suprisingly, i actually liked (and could relate to) most of the stuff i got.
a few albums later i came across a more obscure band called Dizmas (on a search in america) and i took a chance and bought it, at first i couldnt stand their style... it was rock mixed with a hint of screamo for emphasis (and i had never owned a rock album).
but something about it stuck in my head, and after forcing myself to keep listening i actually wanted to keep listening and decyfer the lyrics, i understood why they wanted to make those screaming parts so bold, i understood because they felt strongly about it... and the odd thing is, i felt with them.
so began my addiction to christian rock, and even metal (great raw emotion). and also the reason why i could never be satisfied listening to 'normal' music... because i can relate to what christians struggle and rejoice over.
it gives me confidence in who i am and eases me into allowing myself to feel different emotions, letting me know passion and emotion CAN be blended with reason and logic, it allows me to relate to people, to see life differently, to be more human...
its actually pretty funny, since ive been in country ive stopped reading my bible, memorizing verses and praying... but ive never thought of listening to anything but christian music. the stuff keeps me thinking about God, when im sure i would have been in a much worse situation if i didnt have that type of release,
the benefit of yelling with the artists, even if only in my head. and just bringing my overall focus back to Christ. it lets me shake off the troubles and politics of the world (and not be stressed about situations when the odds are stacked against me), it gives me motivation to continue. God is so awesome, i cant imagine why he takes such good care of me...
thanks for reading as i bear my heart issues to the public, but as i get more connected to people through emotion, not just because i can use them to get information or what i need, i feel that i need to open up more and get this stuff off my chest.
alright, ill try to make this as painless as possible.
my story is alot like many other modern chrisitian storys of failure and rediscovery but one thing ive learned about myself that keeps re-occuring in my life, and in everything i do, is that im hopelessly selfish. just keep that in mind as i tell you why im a christian.
i grew up in Pennsylvannia, in the suburbs of north-east philadelphia. i was born into a christian home and went to a small non-denominational church my entire youth. one of my first memories is actually sitting in sunday school and the teacher lining our chairs up in a row. then going down the line and asking if we wanted to be a christian... all the other kids were doing it so i said yes without knowing fully what i was accepting or getting into.
so about me and my selfishness, its not as bad as it used to be, but when i was younger, i thought the world revolved around me. i figured anything i did was awesome because i was doing it, and if i didnt like it or participate, it would all turn bad. i thought like this untill i was in my mid teens, i went to a concert called creation fest with my youth group. the only reason i went is because i wanted them to have a good time, i personally didnt like christian music back then because i thought it was poorly done and i didnt understand what they were talking about.
so at creation fest i wasent having a good time... but then one of the last nights there a big band at the time, DC Talk was going to be playing, and so i figured it should be good because people are raving so much about them and all. the night rolls around and im not feeling any better about being there, and DC Talk starts playing and i dont like their music, so i try something ive never dont before, i intentionally sit out on singing and dancing and let everyone know that im not having a good time. so i did it and to my suprise, everyone else in my group continued to dance and sing and have a great time while i was miserable, and even worse, the notion that i DIDNT matter to how everyone else felt hit me like a ton of bricks...
well, after the concert that night i had to face some hard facts, i wasent sure at first what to do because if i didnt matter to how people felt, then what was my reason for being alive? it definately wouldnt matter to these people if i never exsisted. but later that night, sitting around the camp fire singging hymns, i looked at my youth group leader and figured, if he seems to be living happily and not have these worries, then there must be something to this whole christian thing. so out of fear ( of insignificance ) i re-dedicated my life to christ, and began my search for some meaning in this world.
I started by changing the way i did things, i used to dress so i looked 'cool' and talk the way everyone else did and follow the crowd, but after creation, i did the opposite, i used to dress for fashion, and now i do it for practicality, same with speaking, i intentionally speak differently then most people. also i would hang out with the accepting kids who smoked pot and did drugs but would never do them myself. so changing all this about myself, i figured someone would ask me why i was changing or why was i different then the people around me... but noone ever asked or questioned, they went on with their lifes and i went on with my search.
I then took roles of responsibility because i figured, the people that are put in charge of me will tell me if im doing something wrong or need to improve... so i worked for AWANA for 7 years and had a job as a camp councelor for 5 years but noone ever gave me the insight i was looking for, they all seemed to think i had it figured out and so they never saw the need to give me any help.
After that, i looked to the internet for some meaning in my life. the Forums really attracted my attention ( irronically enough ) and so i would try to be clever and whitty but noone ever saw me as being different, i was just a number and i continued to just exsist.
by this time i was getting into college and i saw this as a great opportunity to re-invent myself. the people i admired at camp and in school never seemed to have my problem of trying to justify my exsistance so i figured if i was like them then i wouldnt have these problems anymore... maybe they knew something i didnt.
so at college i got involved with campus crusade (i still had hope in the 'christian' thing). i dressed better, i was louder about my oppinion and people actually seemed to like it, by my second year i was the life of the party, and anything i attended turned to gold ( feeding my selfishness ). but as i got to what i thought was the top, i learned a few things...
i couldnt talk to anyone seriously because whenever i tried, they would laugh like i was making a joke... so i found out people wanted me to be funny ALL the time and having people expect something like that from you and trying to come up with something new is very draining and empty because all people see you as is someone who is funny... the part that really got me mad though is that people started wanting my friendship, not because of the person that i was, but because i was popular in my little group... so after this i was done looking... i was done living, i wanted to go somewhere where i could be the same as everyone else, where i didnt have to be different. so i joined the army.
the irony in all this is that the army DOES expect you to be different then all your peers... but going on, i decided in my mind that i would leave all the religon and notions of living differently behind me and just be politically correct and normal. my plan seemed to work in my training days and all was well untill i got to kentucky, my first duty station.
one day i was sitting in our common room and a guy started asking people if they wanted to play softball... i dont like softball but i asked if he knew anyone who played ultimate frisbee? he said yes and i met the guy who is now one of my closest friends.
so i was riding in this guys jeep going to play some ultimate and he starts asking about my family and how i like the place, normal questions... but then he asks if i had any jobs before the military, and i mentioned about the christian camp i had worked at... well, he asked me to his biblestudy. i really didnt want to go but i wanted to keep playing ultimate and get rides from him so i said yes.
the group who did the bible study is called the navigators and after sitting in once, i knew i could never go back to 'normal' life. these guys break being a christian down into practical things that we can do everyday like reading (studying, meditating and memorizing) the word, prayer, witnessing and fellowship and all of them are sold out to the idea, so they help you by accountability and kicking you in the butt when you need it, they are all different age groups so its not just people who cant relate, i mean... its a whole different type of christianity then ive ever seen before, they mentor, teach and equip... not just talk.
the first verse i memorized as part of their group was Jerimiah 29:11... and its so fitting, "for I know the plans i have for you declares the Lord, plans to help you and not to harm you. plans to give you hope, and a future.
and at the state i was in, wondering if my life would ever mean something. those words, Gods words were and are there for me.
but the story isnt close to being over, i have slid away from what i was with the navigators because im seperated in a different country but thats only my excuse, my plan is to keep on memorizing, meditating and reading the word. and continue with all my other disciplines so i can show other people the new life i have found in Christ.
but being a disicple in a world that only follows trends is hard... and doing it without fellowship is harder... but every time i go way off the path, i remember what brought me to christ in the first place. nothing in the world can give me purpouse. nothing satisfies except God... everything else always leaves me empty.
so now, im on NRT... and building up to where i once was with my relationship to Christ.