Love vs. Control

I am a spiritual person. I believe in one God, believe in his one Son, and believe in the one Book that talks all about it. I believe in the Holy Spirit, that it interacts with us and does more than any of us could ever imagine. To me, it’s obvious. Now I understand that’s unique - even most people who believe in it wouldn’t label it ‘obvious’ - and I consider myself very lucky because of that. Something tells me God realized he either needed to make it obvious to me or I would never believe it. So he gave me the parents I have, and the sister I have, and the friends I have, and decided to make it obvious. He handed me his love on a silver platter.

And I know God is not obvious. Although, that’s kind of the point. But that’s not the point. The point is this isn’t me trying to convince you of anything. Trust me, I know what that’s like, and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I am going to talk about how I am who I am because of it. Because, well, it’s my blog, and I can.

So far I have lived 21 years of a life devoid of reasons to be mad at a Higher Power, with the assumption being there is one. Were the assumption to be that everything was random, I would consider myself very, very lucky. Like, emotional-lottery lucky. But, given that I do indeed believe in God, it is very easy for me to feel loved and taken care of by him.

That also leaves a level of hurt that is incomprehensible to me. And I mean that in the sense that, for example, I don’t know what it feels like to not be loved and taken care of by a parent. I don’t know what a broken home feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to be close to death: family member or close friend. To have someone close to me have to struggle through a disease or disability. I don’t personally know people who were lost on 9-11, or in Hurricane Katrina, or who are fighting in Iraq right now. Those things are extremely sad, and bring a lot of hurt, and leave scars. And I don’t know what it’s like to live with those scars. I can’t even begin to grasp the anger that is felt in the aftermath of things like that. And had these things been present in my life, who knows where I would be or what I would think. I can say that I have a pretty good idea of how I would react to something like that happening to me today, that I feel like I know how I would get myself through it. But I don’t, not really. I have no idea.

It’s very difficult to find God’s love among those things, and I would imagine it’s very difficult to keep a strong grasp on faith during those times. And I don’t think the point is to not get sad. Or not get angry. Or not feel helpless and not understand why what happened had to happen. I think the point is to know that we’re not meant to understand. That suffering is a part of life, and that while God has the power to make it perfect, He never promised us perfect, in the same way that we could never promise him to be perfect. And I don’t know why it happens to some and not to others. What I do trust is that God would never put anyone through something they couldn’t handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Which sometimes makes me feel like God knew I wouldn’t have had the strength to persevere through something like that in earlier stages of my life. But the alternative to feeling bitter and angry is to feel strengthened, which I’m by no means suggesting would be easy, but it is nonetheless true. I also know that God gives us trials and gives us suffering so that our faith can be proven genuine, not only to Him, but I think even more so to ourselves (1 Peter 1:7). It is hard to confidently stand firm in faith that goes untested.

Above all, I think that man’s greatest weakness is surrendering control. It’s actually really interesting - It’s like God gave us freedom to give us the illusion of control just so that we would hopefully someday understand that we have no control and need to live through faith and love. Almost seems like the only way we could realize it is by going through that very process. Sometimes I think mankind is just God’s reality TV show, and he created heaven just so he can make fun of us for it later.

But tragedy is a way to be reminded that we’re not in control. It’s a reminder that this life isn’t everything, that really it’s barely anything, that we shouldn’t store up our treasures for this world but for heaven (Matthew 6:19), and that faith is worth more than gold (1 Peter 1:7). And it sucks, but I can totally see why it’s necessary. Because we, as human beings, at our core are weak, and greedy, and selfish, and stupid. And we want to be in control. But we can’t be.

The best way I know to surrender control is to love. Love and control have a fascinating relationship. You can’t control what you love. Or who you love. You rarely have control when you are in love. Most people would gladly surrender control for the certainty of being loved, in the same way that most people willingly surrender their control to protect what they do love. Most people who insist on being in control are afraid of letting themselves be loved, or afraid of loving, because both can end in hurt. And because it’s random. It’s unpredictable. And that can be terrifying. And a relationship with God is the same way. He loves me and therefore has chosen not to control me. And I believe that in order to have the slightest understanding of how much He loves me, I need to surrender my control. Surrender my control and try to love people the way I feel like He loves me. And that makes things random, and unpredictable, and is sometimes terrifying. The difference that comes with a relationship with God however is that his love is perfect. It's unconditional. So most of the time it’s refreshing and liberating and, amazing.

Want to know what terrifies me? That someday I won’t think it’s obvious. That something will happen in my life that will rock the whole boat. That one day I’ll look back on this post and say, ‘wow, what a naive little boy’. Which could be what some of you are thinking to yourselves as you read it. I hope not. But if that is you, I hope you have the courage to give it a little bit of thought. Because I’m nowhere close to having even a fraction of it figured out. Trust me, I don’t think I have answers, I don’t have proof, and I’m very far from perfect. But what I do have is faith that I’m unconditionally loved, through any trial or suffering. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.



"Compare, where you are to where you want to be, and you'll get nowhere."

I am very outspoken regarding my love for Sara Bareilles. For those who don't know... now you do. I love Sara Bareilles. That woman could sing me a history textbook and I would be quite happy (I actively avoided alphabet and phone book). Her youtube videos are lovely and adorable, her twitter feed is fantastic, and her live album makes my soul smile. I missed her play with OneRepublic at the House of Blues and get legitimately sad whenever I think about it. Like, right now...

Anyways, despite this very elaborate love for her as an artist and a human being, I had yet to give her new album a close listen. Not because I didn't want to, because I did. Not because I didn't like 'King of Anything', cause I think it's brilliant. And not because I don't know what kaleidoscope means, cause, I mean, obviously it's –noun 1. an optical instrument in which bits of glass, held loosely at the end of a rotating tube, are shown in continually changing symmetrical forms by reflection in two or more mirrors set at angles to each other... duh.

... right?

Point is, I listened to it while I was driving around today, twice, and the quote at the start of this post is in the second song on the album; 'Uncharted'. And it slapped me in the face. Which I'm ok with - Sara can slap me in the face whenever she wants to. But, these are really the words I should be living by right now...

I'm currently in an interesting phase of my young life. Taking a semester off of school, can't find a job, looking for ways to feel productive (i.e. this blog...), just got my haircut... Ok that doesn't really fit, but still, it happened. To be honest it's been difficult feeling like the only mark I'm leaving in the world is the indent on my Tempur-Pedic mattress when I get out of bed at 2pm to get some Golden Grahams. And the indent is still there five minutes later when I return with my bowl. And my spoon. Let's just say if you asked me in December what I would be doing with my life, this isn't exactly what I had in mind. 

But the fact of the matter is, comparing where I am now to where I wish I was isn't going to get me anywhere (see how I made that sound like I came up with it all by myself?). It's a habit I fall into a lot, and I think a lot of people fall into. Not only with what I want to be doing, but what kind of person I want to be - maybe even more so... I think about becoming a disciplined person, and I think, holy crap, I have to change my whole life. Having routines - eating, working out, sleeping. Becoming a better writer - blogging, writing articles, writing stories. And I think, I can't do that. Not all at once. And if I wanted to start doing that, where do I start? But where isn't the point. Starting is the point. Being patient, persistent, diligent. Being disciplined one day at a time, one decision at a time, as tacky as that sounds... And when I think about this phase I'm in now, it's not about getting up tomorrow, finding a job, being awesome at it, and start raking in dough. But it's also not sitting in my room watching episodes of 'Lost' I've already seen three times. But wishing I could get up tomorrow, find a job, be awesome at it, and rake in some dough is exactly what lands me in my room watching episodes of 'Lost' I've already seen three times. It's about starting. It's getting up, walking into restaurants and bars with a resume in my hand and a smile on my face, and asking for a job. That's it. That's where it needs to start. Regardless of how annoying the process becomes. Three words - patience, persistence, diligence.

So in the same way that waking up one morning and just expecting to be a disciplined person won't get me any closer to being a disciplined person, the same goes for my job hunt. Or, productivity hunt, if you will. And that is why I love Sara Bareilles. Because her voice, and her words, just, open my eyes to things about life and myself, and make me want to be a better person. 

Acknowledge sarcasm..... and we're back.

All jokes and sarcasm aside, her music is fantastic. Singing about things people can relate to, with emotion, and doing it well. If you ask me, that's what music is all about. At least, the good kind, that isn't created for radio and clubs... And unfortunately, artists like her are getting scarce. As far as I'm concerned, there are few things better than listening to a girl with some emotion who can sing. No homo (for lack of a more politically correct phrase...). 

So this one goes out to my girl Sara B. Thank you for having an amazing voice, and thank you for finally writing a love song. When the time was right, of course.


Goodbye Facebook

Tonight I have decided to delete my Facebook.

Now, as your mind fills with thoughts of how insane and ridiculous that is, I hope you have one little tiny afterthought - Is it ridiculous that you find it that ridiculous? Now, I'm generalizing. If you don't think it's ridiculous, or stupid, then, umm... thanks! I am proud to join what I can only imagine is the very, very small percentage of 20-year-olds (soon to be 21!) that don't have a Facebook. 

I'm following the footsteps of my two best friends. One has deleted theirs, one has deactivated it. And there is a difference. It is possible to delete it (google: permanently delete Facebook. It's the first link (not that I'm encouraging you to do the same (I mean, unless you want to, then go for it!))). And I only mention that because, well, they did it first. 

Before deleting it, I went through my pictures and my inbox. It's kind of insane. Not to mention that I could find weeks of reading if I decided to go through wall-to-walls. I could literally map out entire relationships I had with people down to the minute. 

Actually, now that I mention it, I think that's one of the things that really did it for me - the 'view friendship' option. I mean, really? Wall-to-wall was creepy enough. And I will be the first to admit that I've creeped my fair share of wall-to-walls - this is another reason I'm getting rid of it. But 'view friendship'... you can see conversations people have had, pictures people are in together, things they're mutually tagged in, friends in common, likes in common... I mean, those are all the things you could know if you were, like, actually friends with them! But I mean, that takes effort...

Back to the insanity of memory lane. I remember resisting Facebook at the beginning - I was such a wise young lad... And the reason I gave in? March Madness. My friends decided to run the March Madness bracket through Facebook that year, because, after all, Facebook meets all needs. I mean, farmer's can stay inside now! And mafia bosses can do their dirty work online instead of actually killing people... So it is doing some good. Although I'm sure the farmers miss the fresh air... Anyways, I wanted to save pictures I liked and inbox threads that held some emotional value before it all dissolved into the abyss, and as I went through them there was this little part of me that felt I was cheating my memory. I could just picture my memory looking at me in the face and going, "Am I not enough for you? Don't you remember what happened, don't you remember how you felt? And if you can't, don't you think there's a reason?" And, I had no comeback for my memory. I hope I'm remembering that conversation correctly...

There's a scene from the movie "Easy A" where a teacher is talking to the protagonist - "I don't know what your generation's fascination is with documenting your every thought." I actually think this movie is a brilliant commentary on another unfortunate habit our generation has fallen into, but, that's for another day... But, I love that quote. The idea of documenting everything. And not only for ourselves, but for everybody else to see, and, let's be honest, that's the important part...

My first strike against Facebook was removing my wall, something that outraged many people. But people could still send me messages. This way, I figured that if someone wanted to send me something, they could, which would make them happy, but it wouldn't be available to 500+ other people, which would make me happy. Now, for all the complaints I got about not being able to write on my wall, I got one message. Now that I find fascinating. It's like sending something via Facebook was no longer worth it if it didn't get broadcasted, if other people couldn't see it. And trust me, I'm not taking it personally. I am very confident in my relationship with each person this came up with. But the reality is, the point of interacting on Facebook is to show the rest of the (Facebook) world that you're... sociable. "I have friends. I write on their walls. Look at this picture - we're both smiling. Oh look at this one - we're both drunk! Look my friend liked what I said to my other friend!" Sharing an inside joke on someone's wall is more about letting everyone else know you have an inside joke. I mean, sure, it's about the joke a little bit... But there's this mini-rush when you post something on someone's wall and know that hundreds of people will read it, within the next couple of hours no less, and not have a clue what it means. It's boasting a friendship. Luckily, Facebook is kind enough to let the people who do know what it means to "like" it, or comment on it. Which again, is more about letting other people know that you're in on the joke than anything else...

I mean take the very early days of Facebook, what was the goal? Friend count... "I have mad friends, and everybody can see how many friends I have"... Thank you sexual predators for ending that competition, am I right? (too soon?). Then that became childish because people started to realize that made it obvious. What else could boasting about friend counts mean if not caring about what impression your "page" gave to others. Yet, pretty much every interaction on Facebook serves the same purpose, just much more discretely. At it's root, crafting a Facebook page is trying to craft an envy within all the people who (Facebook) stalk your life. And I think this is mostly subconscious, although, also a lot of times not... But I would say that most Facebook activity is driven by the desire to make people jealous of your life. Then again, that's just life... Facebook just makes it really easy to do, and increases productivity as you can make hundreds of people jealous all at once. It's actually just really brilliant.

And what's up with Facebook birthdays? To be fair, I'm fully aware that I have a very unique view on birthdays in general. I think they're weird... Why am I being celebrated? If anybody should be celebrated on the day I was born, it should be my mother... (again, for another day). But, the number of people who interact twice a year by writing two words on each others walls is... well, I think... interesting. I've had a friend wish one of my other friends a happy birthday on Facebook, who have never met, and only know of each other because I am their mutual friend. That just feels weird...

Can I get deeply psychological real quick? If you don't care, just skip this paragraph... But I think the brilliant entrepreneurs of this world have tapped into our generation's need to leave a mark. To feel important. To feel accomplished. Again, not only in our eyes, but in the eyes of the (Facebook) world. They've tapped into our generation's appreciation for the simplicity of superficial relationships. Calm down, I'm not suggesting that every friendship on Facebook is superficial. But if you don't think Facebook is the gateway to superficial relationships, seriously, comment on this post, and I'll sit down with you and your friend list and prove you wrong. Facebook is a way to answer so many "big life questions". 'What am I doing with my life?', 'Who are my closest friends?', 'Why are they my closest friends?', 'What is important to me; my interests, my activities?'... It's all there! Documented down to the minute, with comments of how other people feel about it and a list of people who like it. 

K, stepping back. This post runs the risk of coming off grossly condescending. Which, would be awful. I understand I'm the odd one, and am perfectly ok with that. There are a lot of people who would agree with everything I've said, and still use it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are a lot of fantastic reasons to use Facebook. It's a great medium for great friends to interact, regardless of the reason. I really believe that. I'm not going to list all the wonderful uses of Facebook, cause that would fast-track this post to really, really boring. Instead of just, you know, boring? But I've realized that I rarely use Facebook to interact with my closest friends, and usually just find myself mindlessly browsing other peoples lives. And that's creepy. At least I think so. I also think that finding things out about people I care about on Facebook rather than from the person directly takes something away from the friendship. It cheapens the intimacy. At least, that's just how I feel, I don't think everybody feels that way, or should feel that way. But that's how I feel. I think if something important happens to someone important to me, they should tell me. But saying it through Facebook makes it less "self-centered." Does anybody else feel that way? That it's weird to update someone for the sake of updating someone because you think they'll think you think you're so important that they NEED to know about it. If they don't want to know, you just must not be that close. That's how I feel about it... And then ultimately, I would love to render my friendships free of being creeped on. No offense to all of you who have been creeping. Well, maybe some of you, offense...

Most of you who follow my blog learn about my new posts via my Facebook page. So this 'Goodbye Facebook' post is mostly to serve as an announcement that if my blog is something of interest to you (which if it is, thank you kindly) you will need to follow it in other ways. There's a way to follow it through blogger, which I think is pretty easy, especially if you have a blog of your own. The other thing you could do is sign up to my twitter feed, cause I will also be tweeting my blog posts - @jeremyscanlon. Thanks for reading. I love you all. Peace out.