Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who I Am

I have slowly been discovering who I am.  Some things I fought against and other things I accepted.  There have been some changes over time but the core essence of who I am, who God made me to be, couldn't and shouldn't be changed.  Some of the things I struggled against I did not really need to struggle against at all.  And so, after all my years of discovering who I am, I think I am finally comfortable with who God made me.

Who am I?

I am a guy who loves music.  Growing up I never knew that was a part of me.  Our house didn't really listen to music (outside of Country Gospel) and we weren't really exposed to any other outside influences.  I was 13 before I ever touched a musical instrument, and that was out of curiosity.  Somehow it clicked.  And that was the beginning of my love of music.  Up until that point I knew no music theory, had no musical ability and did not even know who Led Zeppelin, Vivaldi, CCR or ACDC were.  All I "knew" was that Rock and Roll was evil.  That has all changed.  I am now a guitarist and a drummer and a very bad pianist.

I am a guy who loves kids.  Few things leave me as energized and pumped up as working with kids.  I want to teach and support and care and learn with the youth.  I sorta fell into it shortly after I graduated.  I was attending a bible school and the church board asked me if I wanted to teach Junior High Sunday School.  I was paired with an adult who would also be teaching.  I was nervous but said yes.  After 3 weeks the person I was paired with stepped back and I was teaching on my own.  As the kids grew into the high school age I started getting busy so I quit teaching.  However, one Sunday I noticed all the guys stacking chairs and doing dishes while all the other kids were in Sunday School.  I asked what was up they said there was no High School Sunday School teacher so they just did errands around the church until the service started.  And that's how I started teaching Senior High Sunday School.  After a few more years a church in Saskatoon approached my bible college looking for a youth pastor.  I was in the middle of my degree at the time.  They put me in contact with this church and one thing lead to another.  Soon after, I was their new youth leader.  I really didn't want to be called a pastor. That title carried a lot of expectations and I didn't feel worthy of that position.  My one condition was that I would be referred to as the youth guy, and for two years that was my official title.  After my first year leading the youth in Saskatoon and teaching Sunday School on weekends my former youth pastor from my church back home decided to return to the UK.  I was asked if I wanted to help lead the youth at my home church with a few other leaders.  I did.  For the next year I continued my schooling in PA on weekdays, lead youth group in PA on Fridays, drove to Saskatoon on Saturdays, lead youth group in the evenings, participated in worship Sunday mornings, taught Sunday School immediately afterward, went out for lunch with a family and then drove back to PA to start my week all over again.  I did that for a full year and never tired of it.  There is something in me that thrives when I work with youth. Whether I am 30 or 60 the youth are what make me tick.

I am a guy who loves business and economics.  That was one of the hardest things for me to accept.  The love of money is the root of all evil and all that, etc...  My problem is that I am very good with money.  It seems like a prideful thing to say but it is true.  All my life I was the guy who could take $1 and turn it into $2.  I'm not sure where my business instincts came from.  I suspect growing up in a family that could barely make ends meet influenced me to some extent.  I know I swore to myself around the age of 14 or so that I never wanted to be in the financial situation my parents were in.  My first memory of exhibiting some sort of business sense was at the age of 8 when our family and the neighbors had  a garage sale.  I remember them sitting on chairs waiting for people to come, and then waiting for people to buy things.  I remember thinking to myself, "you'll never sell anything that way."  So I went out and talked to people on the street and directed them up our driveway.  I then started showing them my toys and highlighting their finer points and telling them about what a great deal it was.  (Yes, the shy introvert actually interacted with strangers. It seems my business instincts over ruled my fears in this instance.)  I took one little boy aside and let him play with my toy jeep.  (The equivalent of a test drive.)  I told him if he liked it he should tell his mom to buy it for him.  He did.  She did.  I made $5.  I was an 8 year old used car salesman.  Remember, I was a kid who only had pocket change when I found it on the ground.  This idea of providing products or services to people in exchange for money was amazing to me.  And now, here I am organizing my finances to start a business which I suspect will be quite profitable.  I don't do it for the money.  It is about the enjoyment of the business.  I realize there are misconceptions about the kind of income that can be generated in the profession I am in.  I do ok financially but as a paid employee there have only been 3 years in the last 12 where I have earned more than minimum wage.  In fact, as a salaried employee there were times where I was earning less than minimum wage, and as a youth leader before that I was essentially volunteering for 2 years well below the poverty line.  My financial success has not come from the wages I have been paid.  It has come from the investments I have made and the businesses I have started.

I am a guy who likes time alone.  It took me a long time to realize that that is ok.  It's not that I'm shunning others, or ignoring them, or anything like that.  It's that I need to be alone with my thoughts on a regular basis.  I don't like to be reactive, I like to be proactive.  I do things intentionally and with a lot of foresight and planning.  My time alone prepares me for the times I will not be alone.

And that is who I am.
(Plus a lot of other things I didn't get around to mentioning at the moment.)

Monday, September 5, 2011


Dear Diary,

I have changed a lot in the last year.  Most of my changes started about 10 months ago and seemed to coincide with the creation of this blog (for reasons I'll discuss in a one year anniversary entry, I'm sure).

These changes have all been good.  It started with something inside me that needed change so bad it was willing to risk the safety of my bubble to go out into the world and experience what was missing.  I looked for external changes which in turn caused internal changes.  And now, almost one year later, I am changed.  I'm not saying I'm different than I was a year ago.  I'm saying I'm more myself than I was a year ago.  It feels really good to say that.

Change is frightening to me though.  The scariest part of leaving my bubble was the unknown.  I didn't know what was out there.  It may be be good.  It may be bad.  My problem was that I was too comfortable with the "known" to seek the "good".  I was too comfortable with being comfortable.  That seems to be the easiest rut to fall into, no matter what stage of life we are in.  And now there are changes coming up on the horizon and I am feeling just a little bit nervous again.  I am comfortable with this "good" I've found and maybe a little too comfortable to receive the "better" that just may be around the corner.  Whether I want to receive it or not, change is on the way.  It is an inevitable part of life.

C&C is about to change.  I am nervous about that.  C&C has been a very defining part of my life the last 10 months.  I was so nervous when I first came to C&C.  It took me weeks, or even months, to adjust to the new people and places and everything else that came with it.  After all my initial fears and resignations I am finally comfortable at C&C, and now C&C is going to change.  That is its nature.  If it didn't change, it wouldn't be the thing that I've come to appreciate.  Some people I know won't be there anymore.  Some people I don't know will start attending.  The make up of C&C is going to change and I'm not sure how I'll fit.  I will no longer be the new person being welcomed into the group.  I suppose I will now be welcoming the new people as part of the group.  However, it's still a group I don't feel 100% a part of yet.  I suppose it is fairly large and there's no way to be completely connected with everyone.  Maybe my niche within the group is good enough.  Nuts.  I want excellence.  I want greatness.  I want challenging and life changing.  I don't want to settle for merely good enough.

Anyway, that's how I'm feeling right now.  C&C starts up again this Thursday and I am incredibly excited, and just a little bit nervous.