Semester Four / by Michael Nichols

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Today, I think about how much of a procrastinator I am, and how quickly I either blame others, beat myself up, or become frustrated, or shut down when I fail at something, do something crooked, harbor hate, or anything else. Yes, I know that I'm taking one idea, the idea of simply putting off homework assignments, and taking it waaay out of context into something much deeper and darker than that, but that's the way my twisted mind works. I see darkness, and I think about other darkness. Thing is, I recently procrastinated to the point of being perfectly unable to do this assignment, and now it's sinking in, how great of a disadvantage I've given myself, and that is a lazy part of me, a part of my darkness. It's this sense of, "Wow, I seriously just did that!" which give me a reason to take this post the way I'm going to take it.

Whether someone pulls it out of you or you just sort of end up working it out either intentionally or by the way of something else, there is always something dark inside, that worst part of us that we forgot was really there, because we don't believe in monsters under the bed, and that's our problem. After all this time, I'm still trying to piece so much together from so many things I've dealt with. Now, I don't care how it happened or what spirit brought it about. Now, all I need to know is how it affected me and if I'm a whole person beneath the tangled threads.

It has been roughly three years since I left home, just over one since I returned. If you knew me back then, you'd know I was a dark person, devoid of any sense of joy or pride or anything worth living for so I thought. Some of you also probably know the reason I left, and others still know what my last two years of high school were like. The rest of you... well, I'm frankly not ready to talk about it yet, but the day will come.

The important thing for you to understand is that I didn't want to return. Beginning from the end of my junior year of high school, I was ready to burn every bridge connecting to the deserted isle upon which I lived, regardless of the repercussions because at that point, I had learned that nobody could be trusted, especially the ones you needed the most. No, everything I thought I'd know and I thought I could rely upon simply wasn't real, and I could stomach no more. All I could think was, "Get out, get out, and get out now!" That is to say, of my social circle, my school, my house.

Through an undeniably providential chain of events, I found people who cared, who always asked questions, who always backed me up, and were always around to catch me rather than to condemn me for any failure of mine, any shortcoming, any weakness. I started growing, like I was built by God to do, and would have been doing if anyone had the faintest clue as to who I was and who I am, and yes,only began to grow when I wasn't trying to be forced into the cookie-cutter of buyable Christianity (as opposed to the Gospel of grace.) When I started growing, I started seeing light! LIGHT! That's right, the thing that makes us see anything at all.

At the same time, I started seeing darkness for what it really was, and the more I grew to be able to see the lighter side of life and the good things therein, the more easily I and deeply I could see darkness, the hurt and the evils that bury the world. But that didn't make me want to grow. It certainly did not. It made me want to run, so I did.

I'm not just talking about from home or from a social circle. I mean everything. I was planning to attend college to be a music teacher, but I didn't. I thought by now I'd be out of school, maybe even married, with a decent job that paid decent money so I could have a decent life, not that I was really looking for a decent life, but rather a fulfilling life. I stayed out of school for two and a half years, working a dead end job and living a dead end life. Whereas I had once devoted myself on Scriptural knowledge and vigilance, I stopped reading, stopped praying, stopped praising. And the worst part? (As if it could have gotten worse for me,) it wasn't all at once.

Subsequently, I gave in to various alternate ways of keeping my sanity, which I'm also not willing to talk about yet. Did I forsake believing in Jesus? By no means! But when your mind and your heart have been maliciously cut over and over and over from day one, along with the occasional upheaval, all of which left marks, something eventually had to stop, so I ran because I felt small, because I had been betrayed over and over, and because I just wanted to stay alive and feel like I should...

The funny thing is that today is Suicide Prevention Day (and I wasn't taking that into account when I began writing this), when we remember that there are people in this world who don't feel like they should stick around, and there have been many times I've been in that place, where I honestly though I could just slip out without so much as a flinch from anyone in the room. Now, I realize that I've gone through every bit of this for a reason (that I was also completely wrong), and I understand where this mass upheaval started. I remember it like yesterday, the day I had my heart ripped from my chest, when I'd been betrayed worse than ever before at that time. It was like my heart had been ripped from my chest to bear every ugly, untamed, unholy part of me, and though I once blamed the ripper solely, I know now that even though they were in the wrong, those things were already inside of me, waiting to be ripped out, to breathe and live.

At this point in my life, I realize this:

  • I haven't measured up to the perfection that some people refuse to concede is impossible of mere mortals because, no, we are not gods.
  • I haven't been willing to compromise some things that I believe that other people feel are simply psychotic, but it's my faith journey, and no, they are not gods, nor could they be because they do not love like only He can.
  • I haven't accomplished everything I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I can do and was made by the Lord God of Heaven and Earth to do because no, I am not a god.
  • I haven't loved as well as I know I could and know that I should because I have had the ulterior motives of pleasing myself and pleasing a world that is not god, and that reflects upon my understanding of and my relationship with God.
  • I haven't had the faith in myself that others have shown to me, and that reflects upon my faith in them and in the God that made us all.

... And all of this gives me the ability to say this: I'm am over people because I know I'm just as screwed up as the next guy, but I'm not going to give up because of the simple indisputable fact that God doesn't screw people up.

Not even me.