Forcing myself to sit down and write. The last few weeks have been jam packed with so much. Leading worship with my friends, a lot! Producing… a lot! and working on the album… a lot! It’s been so go, go, go that I wanted to take a second away from the studio and all that and just write about the deeper things I feel like are happening in this time. I have such a sense of God’s guiding and nudging right now, and have been observing Him move all around me in my friends and community. As my friends and I have gathered often recently to share life, whether it be eating dinner, making cheese boards, leading worship, or recording music… this theme of humility seems to be on the forefront of our conversations, and seems to be a thread that connects all of us right now. I am trying to unpack it.
A couple weeks ago, we were celebrating my friend Blake’s birthday. And we forced Blake to tell us what he was proud of in his own life, and he said “I’m proud that I never took the easy way out.” And this sentence has been following me, stirring deep inside me, and filling me with so much hope and gratitude, all at the same time. This sentiment woke me up to something, and I felt like it shook me a little bit… and it was in that moment I began to realize the value behind that choice, and how lucky I was to be surrounded with friends like Blake. Since that time at dinner, I began to look at all my friends and community that I have here in Athens - and have really just been in awe of what God has done and what He continues to do in our lives… and how one things binds us all… the choice to take the hard way through. None of us are perfect by any means, but, we are committed to figuring things out, working through our own pains and messes, and surrendering more and more to God as time goes on.
I’ve been thinking, humility can be defined in so many ways and has many facets, but what I am observing and feel like God is showing to me and my friends is that a lot of humility is the willingness to throw everything you once thought you knew to the wind. If we aren’t aware and constantly humbling ourselves, we can begin to cling to ideals and thoughts about God, ourselves, and the people around us as absolute truths. Then, when our lives and experiences challenge those ideals, instead of being open to change, we discount them. In our pride, we begin to build our walls. To keep the uncomfortable out and to keep the familiar in. And sometimes, we start putting those people or ideals into a category that is “beneath us.” And this is a really scary place to be. In any moment that we think we know the entire answer about a person or situation, humility has left us. In any moment that we find ourselves thinking, “I’ve already learned this” or “I am better than this,” humility has left us. When we stop asking questions. When we stop serving. When we stop learning. Our humility is gone.
As I’ve grown into my mid twenties, I’ve seen enough people give up already. I’ve seen so much compromise. I’ve compromised. I’ve seen friends lose hope. I’ve seen friends close their doors forever. I’ve seen friends walk away from God. It’s hard to see that. It’s hard to realize that I’m right there too a lot of the time. But, after thinking about this and observing it over the last few weeks, I’ve come to realize the common denominator between all my friends who’s lives are dynamic and growing in depth, character, and genuine impact. It’s not their strength, charisma, prestige, or platform or anything like that… It’s simply their humility. It’s their awareness that they themselves are the least of these, that they don’t and won’t ever have it all together, and they still have much to learn. It’s their willingness to go through the process of life patiently, even when they can’t see results every day. It’s their slow growth in the same direction, inches at a time. It’s their resolve to do the right thing when no one is watching. It’s their unwavering commitment to hope, even as the tides of life continually try to rip it away from them.
I am not sure all of this fell together quite as clearly as I had hoped but, I think at the end of it, I just wanted to share this beautiful realization: Just keep going. Don’t give up. It will be worth it. I’m in a position right now where I can just see really clearly all the fruit that comes from not giving up. All around me, and all around my friends who have prioritized serving God and following God above everything else, through thick and thin. If you could see who they are becoming, you’d see that it’s worth it. Don’t get me wrong: It’s really hard. like really really hard. And sometimes you look around and go, am I an idiot? But man, if you could see just what kind of young men and women I know and I get to go on adventures with and live life with, you would know it’s worth it. Our time is spent serving, exploring creativity, laughing until we can’t breathe, loving each other, leading our community, making meaningful memories… making histories… we’re not just wasting time or filling our moments with nonsense waiting for the next season to save us. We’re alive, we’re being changed, we’re moving forward. We’re being formed into who we were meant to be. In so many ways, my friends are saving my life. Watching them grow with God through every season has given me a hope to do the same.
In this moment I can perceive two paths. One of continual humbling, bending, breaking, and renewal - all happening simultaneously, which leads to a broken heart’s revival that pumps life into emptiness that surrounds it. The other path: one of bitterness, confusion, constant striving, constant reaching and ultimately leading to a life where possibility, light and love are choked out and change is no longer possible. Would we be so brave as to continue to submit ourselves to the hand of God, the invitation to a childish dance, and to the idea that we have yet a ways to go but even then, we are in motion. Would we continue to choose the hard way through - loving justice, committing to truth, and yielding to the gentle hand of Jesus that molds us as we continue to soften our hearts. Would we grow in wisdom but not in pride, yielding the lessons we learn along the way as gifts, that we never earned, to be shared with the world around us. Would we learn to be quick to forgive, quick to hope, and quicker to love, taking the first step towards the people around us. Would we no longer wait for the our fractured environments to suddenly heal themselves before we offer ourselves fully to become a part of the solution. Would we choose to live in a downward direction, knees buried in the ground as a symbol of the position of our hearts towards each other, honoring each other above ourselves. How wonderful an opportunity that awaits each person - to trade yourself for something greater. To lay down your life in thought and deed so that something greater might come from it. Would we continue to believe.
Would we live in humility, taking the hard way through.