An Interview with Coby from Dude Perfect

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 We live in an interesting world; fame doesn’t just belong to the people in Hollywood anymore. Anyone can become a viral sensation thanks to social media websites like Youtube and Facebook.  Watch any vlogger on Youtube and you’ll see a regular person with millions of views, comments and followers. We might scoff and think “Wow what a silly thing. Who cares about this guy just talking to a camera?” But, deep down, maybe there’s an aching in our heart to be seen, to be approved of and to be followed just like those guys on Youtube. For me, I wrestle with this “viral” thought a lot, especially as a blogger. I go through this thought process every time I  post something, I think perhaps this next blog post will go viral and THEN my writing career will take off, or more recently “surely once a few people read my book, it’ll get the recognition it deserves and spread all over the country.” I disguise these thoughts with “Oh, it’s all for God’s glory!” and “The more people who know Him the better.”  And maybe there’s some truth there, but I know deep down, there’s a part in me that really just wants the spotlight, the approval, the comments, the likes, the empty praise. Admitting all of this is hard. I feel gross. But, I know it’s human nature and I am not alone.  These are all big heart issues I’ve been dealing with and wrestling with for years now.  And I know I got to deal with them so I decided to ask my friend Coby Cotton (Member of Dude Perfect) some questions about managing internet fame as a Christian and all the craziness that comes with it.  

 Sidenote:  if you don’t know who Dude Perfect is, check out their channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/corycotton/featured 

I understand that DudePefect started out with just you guys in a backyard, challenging each other to a variety of trick shots. When the first video was posted and it went viral, what emotions/thoughts were you experiencing in those first few days, weeks? How has that changed to how you feel today?

As juniors at Texas A&M, we posted our first video in 2009. For some reason I still don’t fully understand, it caught the attention of Good Morning America and they called wanting to air it the following morning! I remember feeling both a genuine excitement and a sense of gratitude that God would allow what we created to be highlighted that way. The levels of recognition we’ve received for our videos since that day have risen and fallen, but I’m still equally grateful that God has chosen to use us, a simple group of friends making fun videos, in His way.

 

You’ve gotten to meet and hang out with a lot of famous people, you’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things, you have a TV Show, a freaking cool new warehouse.  By the world’s standard, you’ve “made it.” You’ve got the fame, the fun, a dream job. Sometimes I falsely believe that I need stuff, experiences and people to make my life better. If I only could meet this person, go on this trip, have this awesome job, then I’d be happy. Any words of wisdom for me and the people out there who can relate to that?

Dude Perfect has afforded us some incredible opportunities that, earlier in my life, I could have only dreamt of. I never want to downplay the exciting pieces of this journey, but at the same time, each of these experiences come and go and their luster fades. It’s easy for me (and I think for all of us) to live for the next thing: the next tv show, the next concert, the next weekend, the next promotion, the next vacation. We put all of our hope in those things, and then, once each one comes and goes, we’re left chasing the next. If there’s one thing God has taught me over the last few years it’s this. Be faithful where I’ve placed you. Not where you hope to be one day or in a place you wish you could return to. Be faithful with where I’ve placed you today. Ben Stuart says it this way, “Excel at the revealed things.” We don’t know what God has for us next. I think it’s great to be honest with God and ask Him for what we desire. But in the midst of those honest requests, don’t lose sight of all that He has for you exactly where you are today.

How has your faith played a role in your Dude Perfect Journey?

Over the past year, God has been using a specific verse in my life to bring my focus to Him. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”  I want my heart to be undivided in its devotion for Him. I don’t want to be distracted by this or that and miss out on what He has for me. In the midst of all the craziness of Dude Perfect, I fail in this all the time and allow myself to be pulled a hundred different directions. But my prayer remains the same, “give me an undivided heart” because I know that all that other stuff will let me down. I absolutely can rely on His faithfulness. He has guided me in the past and will continue to do so.

There’s tons of content creators out in the world, bloggers like me, and Youtubers like you guys. As you reached each milestone in your Youtube popularity (1,000 subscribers, 100,000, 1,000,000. Etc), did you feel any better about life? Any advice for content creators who are Christian and are waiting for that next milestone, hoping it will be what they need to feel satisfied?

This one’s easy: No. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble or demotivate someone from seeking that next milestone, but just know that it won’t satisfy you the way you think it will. Think about it. Do you know anyone “at the top” who’s really satisfied with where they’re at in life? The richest and most famous people on the planet are some of the most unsatisfied people on earth. At the age of 30, Tom Brady famously stated in a 60 Minutes interview after having already won 3 Super Bowls and 2 Super Bowl MVPs “There’s gotta be more than this.” The answer that Tom, and all of us, are seeking will never be found in another Super Bowl ring or another raise. God offers us abundant life, both here on earth and forever with Him in Heaven. And contrary to popular belief, good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do. And forgiveness only comes through Jesus. Make your life about Jesus, not the next milestone, and suddenly you’ll be able to rightfully celebrate achieving those goals instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster of reaching them and finding them empty.

What do you do to stay grounded through all the recognition and attention? Some people think it’d be really cool to have that life of being recognized and having people come up to you and be a source of constant affirmation, but really, how is that life? What are the challenges? What do you lose when you’re in the spotlight?

Different people value different things. Some value money, some value power, some value fame or applause. It’s easy to think that with those things comes real happiness. But all of that stuff fades! You’re only as good as your last performance, your last game, your last paycheck. When all of that stuff fades away, you’re only as happy as the quality of the relationships in your life. You first need to make sure that you’ve trusted your life to Jesus, all other relationships are secondary to that one. But beyond that, you’ll never regret spending more time with the people closest to you. I’ve heard it said, “Everyone cheats. You either cheat your work to spend time with your family or you cheat your family to spend time at work.” We all know people who regret giving whole seasons of their lives to their work at the expense of their families and those closest to them. Being in the spotlight (either through entertainment or rising to a certain position in your workplace or through some other means) may seem desirable, but don’t let it cause you to neglect the relationships in your life that truly matter. In the end, all that really matters is loving God and loving people. My prayer for anyone reading this is that they would pray honestly to God, asking Jesus to change them, and then ask Him each day after that how to live in a way that would honor Him and bring them the most joy along the way.

I published a book!

Hello Friends,

It just occurred to me that I never announced my new book.

It’s a devotional book called “Show Me Your Love”

 

It’s an ebook, right now. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to sell hard copies.

Thanks so much for your support!

 

 

The Prodigal Cat

A few weeks ago, my sweet indoor kitty Stinkle ran away. I don’t know how, I don’t know when it happened, all I knew was that Stinkle was gone. I think she had gotten outside Monday night in the middle of a storm. It was really unlike her to bolt out the door and run down the street. The few times she’d been outside, she would immediately turn around and meow to get back in. The storm must have really spooked her.

With cats, it takes awhile to realize the cat is missing  because  cats love to hide indoors so I spent Tuesday looking inside the house for her. I looked in all of her favorite hiding spaces, I shook the dry cat food around the house (her favorite sound), I ran the automatic can opener (her other favorite sound). Nothing.   A strange mix of despair and panic crept over me as I was running out ideas and places to look in the house. Mom came home that night and acted as a second pair of eyes and confirmed that Stinkle was definitely not inside. It was Wednesday. Stinkle was outside and that’s all I knew.

I spent that morning and  afternoon walking up and down the streets calling her name, looking in bushes, talking to neighbors and  texting a lot of people to pray.  As I walked the streets over and over again, that same wave of panic and despair fell over me. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, but I also wanted to ring every doorbell on the street and ask if they had seen Stinkle. As I looked for Stinkle, I knew there were three possibilities.
1) Stinkle was dead.
2) Stinkle was outside hiding somewhere.
3) Stinkle was inside someone’s home.

If she was dead, I prayed that I wouldn’t be the one to find her. If she was outside, I prayed that she would hear my voice and come. I didn’t even want to consider option 3. To think that someone would see my cat, let her into their home and keep her forever made me sick. She was mine. I adopted her, I named her, I raised her since she was a kitten, I loved her.

Thursday through Saturday I was out of town and couldn’t look for my cat. Luckily, I was kept pretty busy. Still no word of anyone finding her. We had put out fliers, and posted on every social media site possible. Sunday came and I was overwhelmed. A whole week without kitty snuggles, her purring in my ear or sitting on my feet as I read. Was this my new reality? If it was, I didn’t like it. I spent a lot of time that day begging God to bring Stinkle home. The shock/denial of her being gone was fading, and the anger had definitely set in. Luckily, I had church so I could pray forgiveness for the things I said to God in my car. (mostly kidding…but not really). That night I met with my community group and I talked about my cat, saying everything I said here. I choked back tears and we all prayed that Stinkle would come home.

After group, I started talking to someone and after our conversation I checked my phone. It was a text from my mom.

“She’s home!!!” And there was a picture of my cat eating food in the kitchen.

A few members of my community group were standing close by and I managed to squeak out one of their names and I said “SHE’S HOMEEEE. STINKLE CAME HOME.” and then instant bawling. Just lots of sobs of joy, and just an overwhelming feeling of relief.  My community surrounded me as I cried.  My cat was found a few houses down in someone’s backyard. They got in contact with my mom and the rescue mission ensued all while I was at church. After the longest drive home ever, I burst through the door and held my cat in my arms. She had dried up mud on her tummy and so I got a washcloth and scrubbed the mud off.

I really wrestle  with apathy. Specifically, apathy towards God. I am apathetic because I falsely believe that  God is apathetic towards me. I think I love the Prodigal son story because the Father is anything BUT apathetic as He sprints towards his son who has come home. In a  weird kind of way, I got to live the Prodigal son story through the eyes of the father this week. And as I experienced what it was like to lose my cat and  not know if she was dead, alive or lost forever, I experienced a small bit of what God must go through all the time. Here’s some things I learned.

God aches for you:  Whenever I thought about Stinkle (which was a lot that week she was missing) my heart literally hurt. I wanted her home so badly . How much more does God ache for those who are lost? God aches for you. When you find rest, comfort, your identity in anything other than Christ, it’s like you’re Stinkle living in someone else’s home. I thought about my life and how I’ve made gods out of myself, people, being liked, control and comfort. God is aching for me to return home to my First Love, and He is aching fro you to do the same.

God pursuits you: I spent several hours a day looking for Stinkle. I walked until I was too tired and needed to rest. When it wasn’t a physical battle, it was mental one.  I let despair win sometimes and I would stop looking.  God is pursuing you. He does not need rest and He will not give up. God became man and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He left all of Heaven’s glory, praise and perfection, for this measly place where there’s headaches, sunburns, blisters, rejection, fatigue, hunger and heartbreak. Nothing stopped Jesus from making away for you to be reconciled to God. Not even death on a cross. Not even death itself. What an amazing God.

God celebrates when you are found: If anything changed my view of God, it was all the emotion I felt when i got that text from my mom. I remember thinking “Gosh, if I feel this much joy and relief about a cat, how much more joy does God feel when sinners become saved?” There’s a party in Heaven every time someone accepts Christ, and for the longest time I thought that was weird and corny. But now,  man, I believe it and can’t wait to join in on that party. But until then, I want to give my life to make sure everyone knows that they are invited to this party  and that the creator of the Universe loves them way more than I love my cat (which is a lot guys)

 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:20-24

A love like Gravity

Sometimes at recess, the kiddos drag me into their pretend games. One girl and I decided we were going to fly into space. “3…2…1…BLASTOFF!!!” She yelled gripping the monkeybars (our rocketship). She began to swing back and forth. A few moments later, we had landed on a foreign planet. She hopped off the monkey bar and said “come on ms marlie! Let’s go!” She started walking around, and I said “Wait a sec. You’re in space! you have to float around, there’s no gravity in space!” (Sometimes I forget these are 4 &5 year olds.) “What’s gravity??” She asked. “It’s what keeps your feet on the ground when you’re on earth.” She blinked a few times and continued to explore the planet.

I spent the rest of that recess pondering that conversation. None of those kids knew anything about gravity, yet, there they were totally being held to the planet by  gravity.  We don’t do anything without gravity effecting us. It doesn’t change based on our mood, our circumstances or our ability to acknowledge or understand it. It just is. All of Earth is effected by gravity. every person and creature.

One time during school, a girl and I were talking about all the people who love her. she began to list the people:  “my Mommy loves me. My daddy loves me. My sister loves me.” I asked her: “You know who else  loves you?” “Who?” she asked. “God loves you!” “Why?” she asked. ‘Because He made you!” I responded. She blinked a few times and continued to list other people who loved her.

I spent the rest of the day pondering that conversation. None of those kids could grasp just how much God loved them, yet, there they were totally being loved and cherished by the Lord. We don’t do anything without God’s love effecting us. God’s love does not change based on our mood, our circumstances, or our ability to acknowledge or understand His love. He just loves because He is love. All of Earth is effected by His love, every person and creature.

His love, like gravity, is unwavering despite man’s depravity. I was going to write a poem instead of a blog post about this idea. But I couldn’t come up with anymore rhymes. So there’s a one-lined poem  for you. But seriously. The gravitational pull doesn’t change day to day, it’s not based on your actions or beliefs. You don’t experience more gravity one day, and less gravity the next. It’s constant. So is the Lord’s love. He has loved you and will always love you as much as He does right now which is more than we can fathom. The Lord’s love has nothing to do with us earning, or deserving love. But it has everything to do with God who IS love, who wants a relationship with us. Gravity doesn’t do much more than just keep you on the ground. The Lord’s love saves you, gives you hope, transforms you to be more like Christ. My prayer for you and for myself, echoes that of Paul’s.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19

 

Lost&Found

After a day of babysitting, I drove an hour to meet a friend for coffee. As soon as I parked, I reached over to the passenger seat to pick up my wallet, and it was not there. I looked on the floor, nope. I looked under my feet. Nope. I looked in the back seats, I looked in the trunk. I looked in the passenger seat again, and again. Surely if I moved my jacket enough times, my wallet would appear underneath, right? Guys, there’s no panic like “Losing your wallet” panic. I immediately retraced my steps from the day.  The house I babysat at, the McDonald’s I took the boys to after their basketball game, home. Worst case scenario, I left it at McDonald’s and someone grabbed it. Or Someone might have turned it in right? Right? I whipped my phone out, googled that McDonald’s that I went to and called them to ask if they had found a black wallet. No one had found my wallet. I realized after I had called them that my wallet must have at least made it to my car or my home with because I deposited my check from babysitting into the bank.  With a calmer spirit, I called my mom, and lo and behold my wallet was at home.

“Cool story bro,” said the reader.

Thanks.

But wait, let’s take into account one thing: I HATE CALLING PEOPLE.  Especially strangers. I went to the aquarium a few days ago with a friend. Before, we were unsure if they were open, so I told my friend I’d call the place and ask. But I never did because I hate calling people.  Guys. My job search was a million times more difficult for me because I did not call people to follow up on my applications. Never in my life have I called a business to ask them a question. Until today.  I found the number, pressed dial, and didn’t hang up.  (usually, I stare at the number to dial, never press the call button, or when i do, I hang up before they answer. I got some serious phone anxiety) I called Mcdonalds because I lost my wallet. I was willing to go to great lengths to find this wallet. Why? cause it had everything in it: debit card, credit card, my license, $14 in cash, and my chapstick. It was worth a lot to me.

 

You know what has even more value than a wallet? You. We’re all sheep gone astray, prodigal sons, the blind, the lame, the weak, we’re sinners. We are lost. And the Gospel is a beautiful, life-changing, heart-transforming story of how the God of the Universe went to great lengths to find, save and redeem us. Why? He is a loving, loving Father. We were made in His image and in the beginning, man’s relationship with God was perfect. A few chapters later in Genesis: the Fall. Man sinned. God is holy. Sinners can’t be in the presence of God. We were separated from God. The cost to find us? His only Son. God in the flesh. Left Heaven, became man, lived a perfect life, died a horrendous death, rose from the dead and beat sin out once and for all. Talk about going a great length to find what was lost! Whether you’ve heard this story a million times, or for the first time now: I pray the reality of the Gospel sinks in. You are loved so much.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it,he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Luke 15:4-6

Real Talk: People aren’t Projects

When I think back to my time at Howard Payne, I remember the people most of all. Sure, I heard a lot of sermons, a lot of lectures, did a lot of reading/researching/studying. But when I look back, I remember the people: friends, roommates, best friends, professors. I’ve never felt so loved in my life. The friends I had loved me in my happiest and in my darkest moments.  They were “God with clothes on.” Not meaning they were perfect, but they loved me in my mess, despite my mess, and encouraged me consistently. Were there rough times? Yes. Tough conversations? Yes. Did I get along with everyone all the time? No. But that’s community for you. There’s nothing worse than faking it, pretending everything is cool when things aren’t.

As I reflect back, I think about how cheated I would feel if my friends only befriended me so I would become more like them. Like, what if I was this rebel child gone astray, and they treated me like their project and they had this agenda of “fixing me” when they befriended me. That would totally cheapen every nice thing they did for me. Of course, none of that is true.But its so convicting because I’m guilty of treating people like projects. Oh, you drink a lot? Let me fix you by “loving you.” Oh, you gossip? let me love you enough so you’ll stop. Gross right?
Not to mention, you can finish a project when you’re done with it. Right? People aren’t a science experiments you can display at a fair, or a C+ book report that you’re trying to turn into an A- report. Let’s ditch the agenda based relationships. And Let us never deem a person “ready” or “unready” to be loved.

Jesus had every morale high ground to stand on, but He didn’t get on a high horse. And who are we to get on ours? When we interact with the world, with non-christians and Christians, who are we to stand on pedestals? Who are we to ride Manny the Horse of Morality around and pick people to treat as projects? People are not projects. We can’t fix people. we can’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves, if we could, we wouldn’t have needed a Savior.

I’ve been in John lately, and I noticed something about Jesus and the miracles He performed. He never said “Okay, I’ll heal you, but first you have to clean up your act. I hear your thoughts, I know how jealous you get. So, try and be less angry and jealous. Then I’ll heal ya. Deal?” Nope. He sees the leper, the woman at the well, the thousands of hungry listeners, and loves them where they are at. He meets them where they are. Interestingly enough, afterwards, each person is so moved that they run and tell people about what Jesus did!  Jesus loved people in their present condition, but He didn’t leave them there. God loves you so much right now. He doesn’t hate “past” you. He doesn’t just tolerate you. He isn’t going to love the “future version” of you anymore than He loves you right now. He loves you. Period. The end.

And there’s nothing we’ve done to deserve His love. In John, there’s a story of a man who was paralyzed and waiting by a pool to get healed. He waited 38 years! Then, Jesus came and saw Him and healed him.  We love because He first loved us. We’ve all fallen short. Every last one of us. Man, if none of what I’ve said has made any sense, please read Ephesians 2:1-10. That’s basically what I’m trying to say. And these things too

1) People aren’t projects. They are works in progress just like you and me.

2) to love like Christ loves, is to love people where they are at. Not a “future version” of them. God loves us in our mess. So, we should love others in theirs.

3) relationships are powerful. the most important relationship we can have is one with God. Our vertical relationship with God effects our horizontal relationship people. (know God, Know love.)

okay that’s all.

thanks for reading. now go read ephesians 2:1-10, and John! because both are so good!

Why?

I wrote this in April. Forgot I never posted it!

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Ever hang around 3 year olds? They ask “why?” all the stinking time. I’ve heard moms deal with their 3 year olds and more often than not they’ll answer a few of the “why’s?” then when they get fed up with answering it or don’t know the answer they’ll ignore it or just respond with “Just Because!” or “That’s just the way it is.”

I’ve been asking God “Why?” a lot this past year. If someone had told me a year ago, I’d be where I was today. I’d laugh and say “No way. That’s terrible, I’d never be able to get through all that.” Here I am today, going through it. I am spouting off the Christian answers to life’s troubles to try and soothe my soul. “It’s happening for a reason.” “God will redeem this.” “You are not alone.”  Deep down having no earthly clue what to do because  I haven’t heard from God at all since any of this happened. I’ve felt really lost. Confused. I felt like he was done listening to the why questions I kept asking and has just settled with ignoring me or saying “Just because.” Believing that you are suffering for no reason is like the worst feeling in the world and this morning I had reached that point. I believed that this was all for nothing. This morning, after deciding that God was never going to answer why, I gave one last little silent plea:
God, Why am I in pain?

He answered that question with a question.

“Is it worth it?”

“Is what worth it?” I asked

“if a year, 5 years, or 15 years down the road, you told your story, this

story, with this pain. And a person was so moved by your testimony that

they accepted Christ, is this pain you are feeling right now, worth it?”

I stopped folding my laundry immediately. And thought about it. My heart pounded and I shook my head yes. There’s a lot of hurting people out there. And the more I go through, the more I struggle the more I can say with confidence to others: “Um, I went through this and this. and there is no stinking way I did it by myself. God comforted me, God gave me reason to wake up in the morning. And I know you are  struggling and I want to point you to Him who can help you too because life sucks way too much to try and do it alone. He loves you”

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When

they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has

given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Sunny days

Sonset

This was the sunset from my bathroom window.

John 8:12 popped into my head.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

What a reminder. What a comparison.

God is love. The Sun is a ball of fire.

God loves. The Sun shines.

*My actions do not effect the Sun. I can stay inside all day, I can be outside all the time. The Sun is going to shine nonetheless. The sun’s ability to shine or not shine has nothing to do with me, but without the Sun I would cease to exist.
God does not love us base on what we did. Your actions, your words, your sin is not a measuring stick for how much God loves you. His Love does not waver each day based on your performance. It is constant.  God is love. It’s what He does, It’s what He is.

*At night, I might not be able to see the Sun, but I know it’s still there because I am alive. Without the sun and it’s heat, we die.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed: by darkness, sin, circumstance, addiction, lust, depression. He is our hope and he is our Comfort through the night.  His comfort is like the warmth of the Sun. You can not see warmth, but you can feel it.

*The sun does not make darkness. Darkness is the absence of the sun.
God does not create evil, or make bad things happen. He cannot make evil anymore than the Sun can make darkness. He is the Author of all life, and all good things. Darkness is the absence of God.

I heard this song recently, True Love by Phil Wickham, and the song starts out with:

“Come close, listen to the story about a love more faithful than the morning.”

I was confused at first, how could God’s love be more faithful than the morning? and then it hit me, one day the sun won’t rise, the morning won’t come, but God’s love will still remain.

thankful for the sun, even more thankful for the Son.

-Marlie

Good grief, Christians.

“Think you’re having a bad day? Watch this video of a 6 month old baby get his ear replaced.”

I found that article scrolling through my news feed. It really irked me. When did grief become a competition? When did our struggles turn from a burden we carry to a badge we wear proudly on our shirts? We go through crap, and it’s obviously much worse than anyone else. Right? Or if someone is complaining about something, we make sure we put them in their place. See, I can be an idiot sometimes. At school, occasionally, there’s mini competitions in conversations of who is the busiest. Especially in the beginning of the semester, and dang it sometimes I fall into the trap of responding to someone who just hashed out their schedule for me  and I, like a jerk, responded:  “that’s your busy day? that’s nothing compared to my busy day!”  Comparison turns a group of young adults into a bunch of 6 year old kids at the lunch table. Arguing over who has the toughest life.

Children eating lunch: 

Little boy: My goldfish died today. 
Little girl: My great grandma died today!
Other little boy: Oh yeah? Well my papa died today. 

And then as we get older, it’s not only about what happens to us, but what how much we are responsible for. 

Middleschool kids at the lunch table: 

Boy: This sucks. I have football practice after school every day, and I have to do chores at home. 
Girl: oh Yeah? Well I’m in all advanced courses, orchestra, choir and newspaper! Plus, my mom’s sick so I have to do all the cooking this week. 

And then, it’s what happens to us, what we are responsible for and how our problems compare with the world around us. 

College students at lunch: 

Girl: My boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me today. Didn’t even say why. 
Other girl: Well at least, you’re not dying of AIDS like the kids in Africa. Get over it. 
Boy: My dad’s sick of cancer. He might not make it. 
Other boy: Well, my dad is dead. So, just be glad you’re dad’s still alive. 

Other than all these situations taking place at lunch (I’m writing this and thinking about how hungry I am), the people in these conversations all lack one thing: Compassion. Instead, they use comparison. People use comparison as a club to beat each other up with. Think you got it bad? *swings club* Just think about someone worse off than you and be thankful, then you won’t have much to complain about.  There’s two things when it comes to suffering and I think we get them mixed up a lot. 

Mentality of suffering:  People say “think” a lot when using comparison. And that’s just the thing. You know the saying, a picky eater at the dinner table and his mom turns to him and says “Now Johnny, think of all the hungry kids around the world who’d be lucky to have that.”   Gratitude is a mentality. Someone might have a negative mindset, meaning it’s in the mind. We all have different perspectives of the world, of our own lives based on what we have seen and gone through. My band director has been an EMT for 22 years, and at the beginning of each year he tells us “Look, I’ve seen a lot of things in my life. My reaction to your crisis will likely not look like your reaction.”  A war veteran has a different view of the world than a 14 year old girl. Why? Because they have lived through different things. We all experience and see the world through different eyes. And process it through our own past, and present. A person can be thankful that their life is not as bad as the others around them, but that does not change the fact that their life might be in crisis.  Gratitude is important. But, someone will always be better off and worse off than you. So sometimes people get stuck. They don’t allow themselves to grieve because people keep telling them that they don’t have a right to. Only the people at the bottom of the totem pole have a right to be sad. Everyone else has to suck it up and keep moving.  I want to challenge that. This whole “thinking” yourself out of a rough time. 

Actuality of suffering: I started running this summer and as I was running I was thinking about how my mile run (which is really just a jog/walk) failed in comparison to the many who have completed half and whole marathons. I respect those people a lot. Their physical strength, mental stamina, work ethic. It’s incredible. But,  as I ran that mile, knowing that people around the US could be running a marathon right at that moment did not make my mile run any easier for me physically. My heart still pounded as fast, I sweat a lot, I breathed heavily. What if someone told me “Hey Marlie, while you run, just imagine the runners who are running 2 miles, or 5 miles or 100 miles! Then you will no longer be tired at the end of your run!” Yet, knowing they are running a 5K does not make my mile run any easier. The same applies to grief. Understanding that people are suffering greater or less than me effects my mentality, my view of my suffering.  It does not change my  actual suffering. I still have to run, sweat, breathe, keep going. step after step. It’s like the kid in middle school from earlier, his dad was on death bed, and the other kid instead of having compassion, says well at least your dad is alive. Yeah, he can be grateful for his dad’s life, but he still has to spend  long nights at the hospital, watching the dad he knew and loved have the life drain out of him. Some life to be thankful for, right? 

Instead of comparison, instead of the “well at least…” or the “just be thankful you…”  can we start having compassion for one another? We serve a very compassionate God. And if anyone suffered, it was Jesus. If anyone suffered, it was God. And He has compassion for us.  When we come to God in prayer, lifting up our pains and sorrows, God does not point to the cross and says “I had it worse.” He points to the Cross and says “I understand.” He understands loss and grief. He understands us. 

 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.–Ephesians 4:31-32

 

I’ll follow you Jesus, but first let me take a selfie.

Yesterday afternoon the sun was shining through the clouds and it was breath taking. I’m a  sucker for sky pictures so I rushed to get my phone out because the clouds were moving quickly. I unlocked the screen, opened the camera app and I held the phone up to the sky and instead of seeing the sky in the screen, I saw me, squinting. The face-fronting camera was still on. By the time I flipped to the regular camera,  the moment had passed. The clouds had rolled on. I was frustrated. But think about this. What if I didn’t even try to turn the camera around that day? What if i just saw the clouds, admired their beauty and exclaimed: “oh I have a great idea!” Then, I pointed the camera at myself, took a picture, and shared in on all the social media with the caption: “Look at me! I’m great.” Kind of ridiculous right?

That’s how we’re living our lives. And it’s ridiculous. We have a choice as Christians, with each day, hour, moment, to worship God or ourselves. We’re shouting with each twitter, facebook status, snapchat, instagram photo: Me! Look at me! I am great! I matter! The world should be looking at me.” We go to church on Sundays, admire God, and go home and take a selfie with our cat (I do this.) The world does not need more witty tweets, or snapchats, or those ridiculous lists. And dare I be so bold, the world does not need us. Another selfish, self-obsessed person.  The world needs Jesus. Instead of using social media to encourage, and build each other up: we’re arguing, and defending our opinions.  We’re using the internet to share how great, difficult, challenging, awesome it is to be us.

Have you seen those lists floating around the internet? The ones with the titles like: “# struggles so and so has for being so and so” Just fill in the blank. For example, “18 things I want you to know about me so the world can know how great my life is because I’m me.” Or the more popular “6 struggles that a certain group of people face that people who aren’t in that group should take note of than feel so bad for those who endure those 6 struggles on a day to day basis.”  Why do those go so viral? . I think we have this inner desire to be understood. This deep need to be known for something (our curly hair, being a twin,a band member, in volleyball, from a small town) and when articles are written about having curly hair, being a twin, a band member, being both introverted and extroverted, a volleyball player or from a small town, we’re like YES. That’s me!! Someone knows me and gets me! Small town girl, big city kid, curly hair, straight hair, introvert, extrovert, college student, twin, dog lover, cat lover: it does not matter. If you are a believer in  Christ, your identity is in Christ. Not in your personality, your hair, your education background or the city you lived in. Your personality will change, your hair will change, your schooling will change: But your identity in Christ is forever.

We want to be understood, we want to be needed, accepted and to feel important. Those are human desires and they are not wrong. I haven’t lived long, but from my experience, looking for those desires to be met in other humans instead of God is a mistake. I heard a pastor say that us humans are like ticks, and God’s the big golden retriever.  We’re feeding off each other for love and starving all the while God’s standing here full of love and we just got to latch on.  (Gross and imperfect analogy, i know) But, it’ll stick in your mind for years now, just you wait. And yes that was a tick pun. You’re deepest need as human is not going to be met with a certain number of facebook likes, retweets, blog views. You’re deepest needs are met in Jesus. He knows you more than human ever will, and loves you more than any human could. Find God. Relish in His beauty. But don’t stop there. Read Romans 12:1-2. And then Read it again. don’t conform to this self-obsessed culture. In the grand scheme of things, our life is but a snapshot. It’s up to you to decide who or what is going to be in the frame.