The intimacy of being unique

How do I know that the red that I see is the same red that you see?

It’s kind of a disturbing question, not only because most people would say color has a fairly important impact on their lives, but also because it points to a reality we all struggle with, which is that, in a sense, we’re all kind of alone within our own experience. There really is no way to confirm this isn’t the matrix, and no way to really be sure what we experience is “true,” that our red really is red.

As naturally social folk, this is hard.

After all, why do you think Buzzfeed lists really are so popular, or gifs or hashtags? It’s because we like to relate, to be in the “in” crowd, with the people that “understand” or “get it.” We see that gif of David Tennant crying in the rain, Brad Pitt pumping his arms and think, yes, that is what I feel right now. The ever present caption: “This is my life.” Nobody really wants to be the outsider, to be the Stitch in the family (even if they say they do. Been there, done that).


(If you’re wondering, yes, I did search for sad gifs, and yes, it did make me sad.)

Except, you are not Jean Luc Picard face-palming (although to be fair, we all probably wish we were at least a little), nor are you high-fiving Tina Fey, that super psyched kid at that birthday party, Tom Cruise, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Batman, or *insert any other super famous gif person (many pardons if you actually are Tina, Tom, Britney, Beyonce, Brad, David, Patrick or birthday party kid. Welcome to my blog!),* and that is not your life.

Which is great.

Because here’s the thing. Your life experience is entirely unique, and while that does mean you might have times where you feel like nobody understands what you’re going through, it also means there are beautiful, powerful experiences that God, the creator of the entire universe, has given to you and only you, to just one person out of the billions and billions of creations that have stemmed from His Holy hands, and what could ever be more intimate than that?

Think of the times in your life that you can’t explain to others. The feeling you had in your greatest accomplishment, times when you felt something divine, all of your most beautiful, exquisite moments and feelings–all while being alone, outside, the only one seeing your red. It’s hard to put the feeling down in words, right? And God made that for you, a story, a journey, that only He and you will ever really take, experience, and understand.

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10

It’s hard to feel lonely, and it’s not always easy to believe that God is with you in the midst, but just remember, you’re the only one who’s ever going to experience those things, the only one who’ll ever get your amazing, beautifully crafted life, so enjoy it for all the strange craziness this life can bring and cling to Him when things get tough.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got. So, what do you think? Do you see your uniqueness as a gift? When have you struggled with this, and what has helped? How do you think our society could benefit or struggle as a result of this understanding, and do you even think it’s true?

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Embracing the fog

The Bible Project recently came out with a new series on the Wisdom books, that is, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. I was in London at the time, wrestling with quite a few decisions that could use some wisdom, and I thought I’d give them a try.

What I wasn’t expecting was for the video on Ecclesiastes to be one of the most comforting and encouraging things I’d seen in a while.



One of the main points the video makes is that the “meaninglessness” that Ecclesiastes often espouses isn’t exactly the best interpretation, fog, vapor or smoke being a better analogy. Basically, even though you do the best you can, we’re all still kind of stumbling around in the dark to a certain degree, and life is strange.

And in a world that seems so focused on pinning life down, whether by politics, click-bait lists, twitter mobs, self-help or more, I can hardly think of anything more comforting than that.

I think about this often, both as a writer and a Christian. For one thing, in a world where issues can be so convoluted, intertwined and polarized, it can be intimidating to join a conversation, let alone make a piece of art related to it. When you don’t want to lead someone astray spiritually by being wrong (though yes, God can definitely overcome any harm I could do), when you know just how corrupted, biased, or flat out wrong you can and likely will be, it can be even worse. I certainly know only a fraction of the darkness that still lives in me. Why would I want that out there?

But that’s also why I think I found this video so refreshing, because it reminds me just how inadequate I am to understand the vast complexities of the world around me, and the grace and humility and wonder that it forces me to recognize and receive and offer to others as a result.

There are so many things that have happened in my life that I don’t understand, so many things that I think I may never understand, and being able to admit that, both to myself, and others, is incredibly freeing.

In many ways, I think it comes down to this.

In a world obsessed with being right, I’m finally ready to admit that I am, and often will be, wrong, as a writer, as a voter, as a friend, a Christian, a sibling, etc.

As a writer, this means having the courage to put my work out there, to be humble enough to accept correction and change and to admit to the world that I’m still trying to learn and grow, as a human and a creative. It also means writing characters who are struggling and don’t know everything and have to run through the fog too. It means not preaching at people through perfect characters, but showing, exploring, asking questions and not always providing the answer.

As a Christian, well, it kind of means much the same, admitting my faults, accepting His thoughts are higher, and trusting Him for the rest. Now that doesn’t mean I intend to stop seeking knowledge or wisdom, I willingly admit I could do much against my own insecurities by simple research and engagement and we should seek knowledge and wisdom, but it does mean that I am free to admit that I’m not there yet, that there’s still work to do. I can also better trust my Heavenly Father when things are hard, when I don’t understand what’s going on inside of me, or when I don’t understand things in general.

I think the most beautiful thing about this is that it’s making me cling more to my Abba. Admitting I can’t understand His grand logic and understanding means surrendering a certain part of me, that pride of knowing (or having to know) it all, and clinging to Him and His grace alone.

So, let’s talk about it. Let’s admit we can be wrong, love with grace, and jump into the fog.

P.S. What about you? Do you find this encouraging or upsetting? Have you had similar experiences/epiphanies? Where are areas where you’ve gone into the fog, and how did you grow/learn as a result? How could you see this applying to what you do, either personally or professionally?