Silhouettes

I had a vision of my future.

An image untainted by life’s cruel circumstances.

But as time goes on,

the image fades.

Little by little,

those that surround me fade away.

They realize their own images,

and I am left to mourn the silhouette

of what could have been.

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Why the tattoo?

People ask me why I have the tattoo that I do. Here’s my reason:

Isaiah 40:28-31 says,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

My entire life I have wished I could fly. Not just in an airplane or with an epic jet pack, though those would be great as well, but I myself, with no outside assistance, flying through the air. Not even in the Superman type of flying where I can soar through the sky at inhuman speeds, though that would also be cool. More in the way of floating.

I’ve suffered from depression for years. There are seasons of wonderful reprieve, and there are seasons of terrible darkness. As I have had to cope with the dark seasons, I have learned of the peace that can come from a long walk to nowhere particular. In my darkest moments, this is my therapy.

A few months ago, I began to process through some things that I had suppressed my entire life. All of the pain that I had hidden away came crashing to the surface and poured into the forefront of my mind. The feeling was overwhelming, and there were nights that I couldn’t imagine continuing. A few nights in particular, I strongly considered taking my life.

On one of these nights, I did what I always do and went for a walk. As I slowly walked down the dark street, trying my hardest to avoid openly weeping in front of some stranger’s house, I closed my eyes. I continued to walk down the street with closed eyes, aware of my surroundings yet no longer fully present.

I pictured myself slowly rising, my head turned heavenward as the earth slowly fell away. The pain, fear, despair, hopelessness, and desperation fell with the earth, leaving only me and my breath. I was weightless; the problems of the earth below had no hold on me. For the first time in what seemed like a long time, I was free. I slowly kicked my feet back and forth, the rhythmic sway in tune with my heartbeat. For a few seconds, in this mesmeric trance, I was free.

I know I can’t fly. I know I never left the ground. My feet were still chained to the pavement, with no hope of defying gravity. My problems never really fell away.

But for a moment…

These verses remind me that even though I’ll never be able to fly on my own, I can still find freedom. I will get weary. I will stumble and fall. But if I hope in the Lord, he will strengthen me, and I will soar. No longer bound to the earth and its entanglements, but finally free.

I may not be able to fly. But through the Lord, I can be free.

That’s why I have this tattoo.

The Uncanny Valley

As I walk outside, I notice.

Something isn’t right.

The sky is oddly yellow; the trees a shade or two off. A slight breeze bends the blades of grass, a little too much.

This must be a dream.

The birds aren’t chirping and the crickets’ song is a key too high. The world around me has an almost manufactured feel, as if created by an imperfect and fractured mind.

A mind like mine.

I look around me, taking in this uncanny valley of dream-reality, and begin to realize…

This isn’t a dream.

This is reality.

And a storm is brewing.

Language is Power

The words that we read in a book or write on a page are nothing more than an assortment of symbols that were long ago designated a sound. A meaning.

The letters are arranged in such a way that the artist hopes to be unique. To be interesting.

By just glancing at these mere scrawls on the page, visions of glorious battles and beautiful romance become manifest in the mind of the reader. Entire worlds are created through these not so random assortments of words.

Fear of magic has long plagued the minds of men, but the true fear should lie in the imagination of the artist, for it is by these words that life is given… and taken away.

Literature is magic.

Language is the power through which it comes to life.

Passion

I have passion.

I have passion for painting and carving.

Singing and playing guitar.

Yet my hand is unsteady and my voice is off key.

I have passion for cooking and cleaning.

Intelligent discussion and deep introspection.

Yet my dishes are bland and my brain likes to sleep.

So I write.

All of the passion and pain and love and life that flows through my being and wishes to manifest itself within my multiple passions must find its way out in one way or another.

To hold it in would be to suffocate.

With my words I paint and carve my pain and love.

With sentences I construct skyscrapers of introspection.

Few may read it.

Fewer appreciate it.

Little to none understand it.

But I write for me.

I have passion for life, with all of its twists and turns.

And so I write.

My Imaginary Friend

Sometimes, I feel like a 5 year old with an imaginary friend.
I surround myself with fake feelings of security, false promises of a selfish future.
I reject the logic of the world around me and ignore the reprimands of those with me.
Of my Father.
I walk around with a pasted smile and convince myself and others that I’m happy.

I hear God telling me to let it go.
But like a child I run and pout.
The sounds of my temper tantrum ring through the air.
My denial is stronger than my logic.

I know that to let go would be to gain so much more.
But the fake reality is so much more appealing.
There is less pain.
Less fear.

But as a child grows up and abandons his imaginary friend, so must I come back to reality.
I must realize that pasted smiles and empty laughter do not give life.
They take it away.
So I leave my imaginary friend, hoping to find something real.

Fantasia (Flash Fiction)

The glistening city of Fantasia appeared overnight. Before it, the only reality we knew was darkness. This darkness was not simply the absence of light; it was the absence of anything but ourselves. To the individual, it was the absence of all but self. There was nothing to hold onto. The sudden appearance of Fantasia with all of its light, music, and smiling faces was overwhelming, but in a good way.

For years, the darkness was nowhere to be found. Its disappearance was a gift. All of a sudden the world had light. It had life. It was beaming with love and companionship that for so long had been naught but a distant thought. I, and those like me, breathed a sigh of relief at the blessing that was this new life. Nothing was going to take it away from us.

That is, until the darkness returned once again.

Fantasia was the city of light, the city of dreams, the city of hope. The darkness had been not only a sad reality, but a lack of reality altogether. Fantasia was our first and only look at what reality actually was. Or so we thought.

The darkness came slowly back. It began with an odd dimness around the edges of the city. Storm clouds seemed to lurk on the edges of the horizon. Everyone noticed, but nobody acknowledged. For there was no way that something that isn’t real could penetrate that which is real, right?

But the darkness continued to move in. No matter how much light the city produced, nothing could penetrate the darkness that was coming. Little by little, the outer edges of the city fell into darkness. Though everyone knew what was coming, nobody seemed to notice. As darkness increased, so did pasted smiles. As seeming nonexistence penetrated our reality, people became more and more determined to ignore it. To continue to live in the light of Fantasia as if nothing was wrong. As if the darkness was not getting closer and closer by the minute.

I was no exception.

Even to the last minute, when no smiling faces were left, and the only light left in the world was a small cylinder in which I was standing, surrounded by an ever increasing blackness, I pasted on a smile. I thought to myself that Fantasia would come back. That the darkness was simply a dream.

I was fooling myself.

As the darkness overcame me, and the last light of Fantasia blinked out, I finally admitted to myself the truth. Fantasia was not my reality. The darkness was the only real plane of existence, and Fantasia was nothing more than a construct of my mind, an attempt to escape the permeable darkness. I had lived in a pseudo-reality while silently ignoring the voice in the back of my head that told me it was all fake.

Fantasia was never there. I guess you could say it was only a fantasy.

Define Me

I scream “Define me.”

I feel nothing.

So I surround myself with the normal culprits. Jokes, music, “I’m fine” and “Praise God,” lies that only I and few others can see through. From all perspectives, I am doing well. I have great classes and wonderful friends and I am deeply in love with a woman who is in love with me, but introspection reveals shattered glass, held together by painter’s tape.

I look to You, for You saved me in the past. I bled my heart at the altar, one more sacrifice to You, and You reached down and picked me up. Gave me joy, took my pain. I know You suffer with me, but I can’t feel the companionship. You’re beside me but I feel alone. My anxieties and fears surround me. I’m Jacob but instead of wrestling You, I am wrestling my own demons. This is one battle that I can’t afford to lose but alone I can’t win and yet I just can’t release the control. All I have left to fight back with is paper shields and cardboard swords. I’ve painted them to fool my enemy, but the deception will only last so long.

I am Yours. You made me and called me. You equipped me. You are right here with me.

Define me before my pain and anxiety defines me once again. You took that definition. I struggled to find my worth in You for so long and once again I am finding myself with no grasp of an identity. I was pain. I was sorrow. I was anxiety. I was fear. I was inadequacy. I was self-deception. And I was strangely content.

Then You came and took away my pain, sorrow, anxiety, fear, inadequacy, and self-deception. You gave me a cure. You gave me joy. You gave me peace. You gave me courage. You gave me adequacy. You gave me security. And I was gracefully complete.

But they’re so far removed that I am lost once again.

I am searching around for the definitions that I once had, and I am liable to grab onto the closest one that will take me. The difference between the former and the latter is blurring; my sight is failing.

I know this is my own doing. I put everything else before You. I looked at everything You had given me and I thought to myself, “I can do better.”

Well, here I am, Lord. Fallen again and searching for a hand to pull me up. Pull me out again; grab me by my shattered self and remake me. Burn away my impurities; hold me at the hottest part. Don’t hold back.

This time I’m not giving up.

Define me.

Quiet Isn’t Always Violent

Sometimes, quiet is violent.
This lyric from twenty øne piløt’s song Car Radio has been my motto ever since I heard it. You see, I used to battle with major depressive disorder- for years. When I discovered twenty øne piløts, and Car Radio in particular, I finally felt as if somebody understood. Despite the fact that I may never meet Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun to tell them exactly how much they’ve helped me, I felt as if I had a deep connection to them and all of the other few, proud, and emotional.
Notice I talk about my depression in the past tense. This is because, for those of you who are new to my blog, God healed me of my depression this past winter. I know this may sound odd or overly charismatic, and I’ll never truly be able to prove it, but God came down to me when I was at my literal worst, numb to everything but the pain that consistently gnawed away at my mind, while I kneeled at an altar and cursed Him for letting me get this low. He flooded me with love, peace, and assurance that I hadn’t felt in years. This isn’t the type of youth conference spiritual high that goes away after a week or two; it was a real, honest miracle in which God cured me of a disease that was honestly and truly killing me (by causing me to almost finish the job myself). It’s gone, with the exception of some occasional situational depression that is much easier to fend off, but the walls and mannerisms that I developed as a defense might be more difficult to get rid of.
I’ve come to notice something about myself in the past couple weeks- mainly because I’ve started driving by myself a lot and therefore have a lot of time for thinking. When I was deep in the pit of depression, I would never allow myself to be in silence.
Sometimes, quiet is violent.
It was during the silence that I would begin to think about everything that was wrong with me. Everything I was doing wrong. Everything that life was throwing at me and everything that I couldn’t do to fix everything. I tried to cover it up by never allowing silence, and I filled every waking moment with music, Netflix, or conversation.
I’m forced to deal with what I feel, there is no distraction to mask what is real.
Even though my depression is gone and the violence but a memory, I still do everything I can to avoid the silence. When I’m driving by myself or walking to class with nothing but my thoughts, I find myself unable to stand the silence. I listen to music, I talk to myself, I call my parents or grandparents. In short, I do most anything I can to avoid the silence.
Sometimes, quiet is violent.
This is the mindset that I had for so long taken as truth. Because, at the time, it was. But due to the grace of God and the miracles of love He performed, it’s no longer my reality. Not anymore, anyways. I still overthink my assignments and freak out about bills, but there is no need to tie a noose around my mind, loose enough to breathe fine and tie it to a tree and tell it “you belong to me.” 
Sometimes, quiet is violent.
But here’s the thing. “Sometimes” means that there are times that aren’t included in the statement. Silence is what allows me to meditate on God and spend time in prayer with Him, pondering His call of my life and the reason for my past. I need the silence to bring me closer to Him.
Sometimes, quiet is violent.
And sometimes it’s not.