How great was your fall? Sometimes, we evaluate our need of help based on how far we’ve fallen or how damaged we find ourselves after we hit the ground. But what about when we don’t fall very far? What if today, we barely stumbled? Do we begin to embrace the stumble and keep stumbling until we find the nearest stairwell to throw ourselves down, then proceed to roll outside into the street for a car to hit us? Do we indulge an addiction because we hurt ourselves with our sin? Do we fall into a deep despondency because of a few wrong words?
When we stumble, sometimes it’s best to just call a spade a spade or a sin a sin and say, “God, forgive me; today, I must keep following you. You know I need to just keep going. I can’t wallow because if I spend too much time wallowing, I’ll miss your next movement of love.” We must continue to move with him. When you go for a walk, if you stumble over a rock, do you decide the walk is over? No
If you would like to come for a short walk with me, I’d like for us to share our heights, depths, and regrets together:
Heights: If I had to pick the heights of my life, there are a few moments in time while I was present in those moments that I would say felt like heights: (2007-2009)- College years in which I grew a lot in my faith and my walk with Jesus (May 2012-September 2012)- At various time I felt like I was bouncing back (ministry, job romance) or moving towards a dream, on paper life looked good. (End of 2015- Beginning 2016)- Discovered teaching and more ministry involvement and gained a renewed sense of dreaming
Depths: If I had to pick depths, I would say they were sporadically placed within the gaps, 2013-2015, break-ups, break-downs, many moves; it contained some especially dark times. 2006 was a dark time as well.
Regrets: Sin/ hurting people/ worrying too much about what’s next
Can I share a story with you?
Story: The James Passaro writing in the tail end of 2016 is not that much different than the version of me who in 2000 while in 7th grade discovered how enjoyable, but more importantly how healing, writing could be. Between 2000 and 2016, I began to believe a notion that writing made things permanent. I believed even if an emotion changed, writing immortalized the emotion for the specific moment of time in which it was recorded. I believed if I wrote of my love, there would be a permanence to it. What I failed to account for is that human memory or thought/perception are far more powerful agents in the life of the author than any emotion conveyed on paper could be to a reader, even if that reader happens to be the author looking back on what they once wrote.
Writing is only high or deep or regretfully read to the one whose imagination is taken captive by the words they see. I will only care about or give permanence to what you wrote or what I once wrote if something within me perceives it as valuable. If I treasure it, I will keep it. We ask questions when we read like: what in the world can this possibly mean to me or for me? Are the implications of what I’m reading triggering a familiar emotion or capturing my thoughts because who I am as a person resonates with the poetry of the page? Can I empathize or be brought to feel by the script? Did you write this for me? Maybe
The Real Story: I write letters to my future wife. I write letters to my future self. I write letters to God even though I don’t mail them.
I started doing the first one because I wanted her. Let me add to that statement. I wanted her to see what I had written when I was 19 or 22 or 23 or 26 (I have since stopped) and her say, “You thought about me then, you prayed for me then, I’m here with you now. Thank you; I value or cherish these.” If she doesn’t say that I would at least like her to laugh with me over the time I spent imagining what she would be like. What I wouldn’t want is apathy.
I started doing the second one because I wanted to make sure that my present self would remember how faithful God is. I would recognize that if I am still alive and reading what I once wrote, then He has kept me alive for a reason. I wanted to hold myself accountable to what God has said and promised and remind myself that it has been worth it to follow Him and pursue living a life devoted to Him.
I write letters to God because, even for someone who likes to talk and likes to sing and likes to write, as strange as it sounds sometimes I don’t have any words to express. My letters to God are not deep; they pretend to be. They are important insofar as they are a record of my weakness. I can honestly do nothing without Him. They are a child, asking for help to understand what is going on around him or at least knowing he is led onward when he can’t understand. A child trying yearning to know if anything is growing inside him, trusting that he is becoming more like his Father.
If I told you how much time I have spent writing, it might not impress you. If I told you how much writing I’ve lost due to technological failure you probably wouldn’t believe me. If I erased or burned up everything I’ve ever written, I would still have to navigate the storyfull of memories my mind relives or reminds itself of.
The spin of the story I tell myself or others is filled with bias and is usually desiring some type of reconciliation within God’s bigger story of the world. As much as I matter to myself and as much as I matter to God, the story which is already written about my past can’t be changed. Those chapters are closed. Sure, my perception can change, maybe one day or someday soon I’ll stop remembering so much. As I do I will hopefully live out some more of my dreams and see the promises of God more clearly.
Can I stop walking because I stumble or even fell? No. Did I write this for me or for you? Maybe Is the walk ahead of us worth it? Yes