The night before, as I was deciding what to wear for the concert I was throwing in Pittsburgh with a couple of DJs, I went through my closet and found an old Exiting The Fall shirt I had tucked away. It was if the shirt had been misplaced for years. So I pulled the shirt out and thought to myself, “I need to wear this!” It was important to me because it reminded me of who I used to be.

That whole episode may have been one long dream in my bed on November 12th, but the 30-minute jam session I just had in my shower was 100% real! I threw my body around like a mosher from end to end in the shower as I screamed the lyrics to Confide’s Shout The Truth,” easily top 3 of the most influential albums in my life.

A month ago I found out that Confide was getting back together to play a 10-year anniversary show of this album and it’s been an existential crisis ever since. You see, they are only playing this show in Pomona, CA on November 30th. Not only is this show on the other side of the country, but it’s also days away from my 30th birthday. Furthermore, I’ve never been able to see Confide live and this is a bucket list item I’ve dreamed about for over a decade. I’ve been doing my best to Uber extra to save up to get a flight and hotel out there but the struggle is real.

This whole “should I go to the show?” “can I go to the show?” “Why shouldn’t I go to the show?” debacle has catalyzed my mind into a daily discussion of my heart. I’ve begun asking myself questions like:

“What happened to you?”

“Where is your adventurous spirit you used to have?

“You’re almost 30! What have you even done with your life?”

“You don’t have enough money to go. Maybe if you weren’t terrible at life you’d have enough money.”

Now, before you assume I’m being dramatic (which, I really am), I’m also not sharing all the details. There are things I’ve been struggling with recently that have me questioning my identity. At the end of the day, it’s not all about going to this show or not. At the end of the day, it’s about, “Am I truly doing what God has called me to do?” The answer to that question is, “Well, kind of. But not fully.” And so my heart is in this perpetual state of not happy enough but happy enough. I’m not living my life to the fullest (John 10:10, Eph. 3:19), I’m not fully devoted to doing what the Lord has called me to do, therefore, I am not fully happy, joyful, or satisfied.

The truth is that I feel like less of a man right now. The dreadful word every person fears comes to mind – emasculated. I’ve been living in fear, anxiety, and a lack of confidence as they rule on the throne of my heart for way too long. I feel like I am a disappointment to my 18-year-old self who would be ashamed of the man I’ve become. I feel as if I’m a disappointment to my wife, my ministry, and ultimately, my God. I’m writing this because I’m sure there are many out there asking the same questions and have similar feelings, especially when Facebook shows you pictures from 10 years ago. It’s okay to share that we feel weak, fearful, and scared of becoming someone we aren’t. If we don’t share about it with each other, we’ll never be able to process or deal with it. But we also can’t live our lives fully in that fear either.

In his book Wild At Heart, John Eldredge says, “This is every man’s deepest fear: to be exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an impostor, and not really a man…we doubt very much that we have any real strength to offer, and we’re pretty certain that if we did offer what we have it wouldn’t be enough. Something has gone wrong and we know it” (47, 50). Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have some perverted idea in my head that if I don’t chop wood, drink IPAs, and never cry that I’m not a man. On the contrary, I know what it means to be a real man; I have just failed to live up to my own expectations and therefore am experiencing a great disappointment and grieving of my soul.

I’m sure Andy Atkins and some of the guys from A Plea For Purging knew a little about what I talked about in their final album, “The Life and Death of APFP.” They write in their first song of their last album:

“When the dreams you’ve caught aren’t the dreams you’ve chased… The kid you were hates the man you became, you can’t remember what you wanted…All of these young men dying of old age, to feel alive could cost you everything…Remember what you wanted, remember what you’ve chased.” (You can listen here)

As I quickly approach a new set of legal numbers that will accompany my name, I feel their weight. I feel weak and afraid and awkward. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that today, as I examined my life, I can begin restoring what I feel was lost time in my life. I’m hopeful that my 30s will be the best decade of my life. I’m not naive. I know I’m still “young.” I’m sure good exercise and eating healthier will help many ways in which I’m feeling “older.” However, my heart, my soul, and my being need a reset. They need something more than a weekend retreat at Jumonville (though, that would certainly do me some good). They need adventure. They need to step out onto the water a little bit more. They need to trust in the Lord. I know I’ve been afraid to step out. I’ve been afraid to make the moves I need to make to live fully and it’s terrifying. But I need to have faith in my identity as a child of God that Jesus will take care of me. The truly terrifying thought is living cautiously to the point where I paralyze myself from living life to the fullest. 

I want to leave you with my favorite song from Shout The Truth. It’s one I’ve sung in the shower too many times to count as I’ve tried to push through the weight and muck of my repugnant thoughts over the years. It tells a tale of being caught in this vicious trap and being unable to get out. Struggling to pull from the disastrous thoughts, Ross notes that he can’t hear the voice, but he can hear himself, a subtle deviation from the previous chorus, and the song shifts in tone as it offers a solution: “I believe that we can make it, just settle down, just settle down.” Much like quicksand, when our minds begin struggling with fear and anxiety, we panic, increasing the likelihood of drowning. 9 times out of 10, we just need to calm down and focus on the Lord. The album closes with “This I Believe,” a beautiful polyphonic prayer that does just that. The final line, “Can you guide me all the way, until I’m home safe with you,” undoubtedly plays on the third song, “I am Scared of Me” which says, “I”m not home until I’m done in this place.” Our fears don’t have to hold us back if we can concentrate on the Lord and our calling because we aren’t Home until we’re done in this place.

You can listen to it below if you’d prefer.

 

“In Reply”
I was backed in a corner and left myself no room at all
I left myself wide open to fear
And in the end, so vulnerable
You will take back every word you said
You will take back every word you said

Show me how to pull back from the thought that seems to
Break me apart and hold me down
Show me a way back to you when I’m so deep in fear
And I feel there is no escape
I can’t hear your voice but I hear…

“Can you breathe as I’m halfway down your throat?
As I’m the weight that’s resting on your chest.
As I’m the pressure that’s weakening your lungs.”

This feeling just keeps repeating
I know it’s got a hold on me
I’ve been left alone for too long (or that’s just how it seems)

Drag me out alive from this
That’s all I need right now
And when it’s over, I’m over this
You’ll see how weak I was.

Show me how to pull back from the thought that seems to
Break me apart, and hold me down
Show me a way back to you, When I’m so deep in fear
And I feel there is no escape
I can’t hear your voice but I hear myself.

I believe that we can make it
Just settle down settle down

“This I Believe”
I will never turn, I will never look away
Father, show me Your face
Praise Thee, come as You are
To hear Your voice
Can You guide me all the way, until I’m home safe with You
I believe that we can make it, just settle down, settle down

Maranatha/מראנתא

“In Reply”
I was backed in a corner and left myself no room at all
I left myself wide open to fear
And in the end, so vulnerable
You will take back every word you said
You will take back every word you said

Show me how to pull back from the thought that seems to
Break me apart and hold me down
Show me a way back to you when I’m so deep in fear
And I feel there is no escape
I can’t hear your voice but I hear…

“Can you breathe as I’m halfway down your throat?
As I’m the weight that’s resting on your chest.
As I’m the pressure that’s weakening your lungs.”

This feeling just keeps repeating
I know it’s got a hold on me
I’ve been left alone for too long (or that’s just how it seems)

Drag me out alive from this
That’s all I need right now
And when it’s over, I’m over this
You’ll see how weak I was.

Show me how to pull back from the thought that seems to
Break me apart, and hold me down
Show me a way back to you, When I’m so deep in fear
And I feel there is no escape
I can’t hear your voice but I hear myself.

I believe that we can make it
Just settle down settle down

“This I Believe”
I will never turn, I will never look away
Father, show me Your face
Praise Thee, come as You are
To hear Your voice
Can You guide me all the way, until I’m home safe with You
I believe that we can make it, just settle down, settle down

Maranatha/מראנתא

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