The Pigeon Hole Revisited.
What are you living for? Where do you find your inspiration? What makes you do the things you do? Are you looking for something? Most people are. Sometimes it helps to take a look back at where you were at some point in the past to get a more clear picture of where you’re going in the future. Thanks to an email from a friend and some advice from another, I’ve decided to take a look back at when I started this blog, and the reasons for doing it then, so that I might be able to remind myself of where I was and where I need to be.
“I need more than what I have right now”
When I started this blog, I was at a turning point in my life. I was just coming out of a catastrophic meltdown, of sorts, that caused my coming to Christ. This blog was meant to reflect on experiences that I have already had, as well as chronicling my adventure as a born again Christian. In the early days of 99 Shades of Grey, I had a couple of posts called “Pigeon Holed part 1” and “Pigeon Holed part 2”, which told of the empty feeling that I always harbored as I searched for meaning and purpose in life.
Being so early in my faith walk, I rarely attributed this, at least in posts, to the absence of God, but rather as an absence of the things that I felt that I was meant to do. I talked about the feelings of contentment that I had when I had the time to work on art and comics, and how when life got in the way of those things I felt empty and worthless again. I chronicled my search for purpose from art, school, seeking government employment, etc., etc., then concluded in the second Pigeon Holed that all of these things were selfish ambitions, and that merely focusing on family and having God in my life would be sufficient.
“This was definitely one of those lessons that has to be learned the hard way, and a series of events sent me on yet another quest to find myself. This time it was filled with alcohol, church and antidepressants. The end result was/will be fantastic. A complete reimagining of what life really is and what’s important. I’ve learned that fate is real and, while I have free will, I have very little impact on destiny…it’s best to just sit back, let God do his thing and enjoy the ride.
Letting go of the rediculous thought that you can really control your own fate is quite liberating. Some people call it giving up or settling, and I honestly would have considered it as such 6 months ago, but it isn’t. It’s absolute freedom. That’s not to say that I don’t wish I had more time to draw, or wish I was currently working on a comic. It would be great if M. And I had the time we had in high school for some project, but I’m much more content now not having that time. I work and it sucks, but it keeps my family taken care of and happy, and everytime I see my kids smile or hear a candid giggle because of something fun or funny that we did together I can’t help but feel like a kid myself. Like the stress of the day disappears, and that, mon frere, is the greatest feeling in the world.”
But at the time of creating these posts, I was still trying to be a Christian in a Godless world, and I was blinded to many of the things that God was telling me. The Holy Spirit had revealed Christ to me as I laid in bed in quiet desperation one night, not so that I could ignore the longings of my past, but so that I could finally make sense of them. At the time I thought that I needed to let go of my past by forgetting that it existed, rather than letting go of the guilt, pain, and shame associated with the past that I’d lived. I thought that I was to find contentment in God in the present, rather than also looking at how he had acted all throughout my past, weaving a beautiful tapestry that ought not to be ignored.
If you’ve ever read any of my old comic Captive, you would be well aware that I harbored pain and resentment toward society and the American family at the time of creating the comic. To some, it was just a comic exploiting sex, drugs, and violence to gain readership, but in reality it was a culmination of things that I had witnessed in society and in my own home that were deeply disturbing to me. Something that I wanted to change, but had no idea how to.
The thought that the moral decay of society was something that was always on my mind and always troubling me was not only evident in my artwork, but also in every other pursuit, regardless how pointless it seemed at the time, that I involved myself in in my search for self. When I decided to go to school for criminal justice shortly after high school, it was strictly for the fact that I wanted to be involved in counter terrorism. This was a result of an obsession with the events of 9/11 and it’s causes. I wasn’t obsessed necessarily with combating terrorists, but the societal problems that instigated the attacks in the first place.
I knew that any lay person could seek vengeance and buy into the ‘jealous of our freedoms’ excuse, but I knew that if we were to effectively combat religious extremism, we needed only to look in the mirror and find that we are America’s enemies. That our freedoms, like God given free will, were meant so that we had the choice to do the right thing, even though we had the option to do the wrong thing. Sadly, the abuse of our freedoms as American citizens, and our free will given by God, are the cause of our pain and our strife. Equally sad is the fact that when people say things like this publicly, they do so out of compassion for Americans and a want for them to realize their mistakes, come to repentance, follow Christ, and build America back into the great nation that it was intended to be, but they are largely rejected and considered unpatriotic.
My intentions were good while attending school, but I got impatient and lost focus. I blinded myself with what I wanted, while ignoring what God was telling me to do. I knew that I needed to do something, but I wasn’t asking what exactly it was that I was supposed to do. Ignoring God to pursue your own goals can be extremely tiresome, painful and frustrating. I remember going through a period of trying all sorts of things from military to government applications trying to find out what I was supposed to do. Every attempt was a failure. I knew I needed to be serving society and helping to build it back up morally, but, out of impatience, starting focusing on symptoms rather than causes. I became determined to tote a gun and forcefully punish those who were a detriment to society, but God continually told me ‘no’ and closed every door I tried to open. Thank you, Lord.
After submitting myself to God and giving up on my ambitions, and after writing the Pigeon Holed posts on this blog were I thought I had found eternal contentment with my family and with God, I still had the urge to do something. And that’s because God had always intended for me to do something, and just because I was finally listening to him didn’t mean that I could get out of that. So I tried to some things that gave me happiness in the past, only now doing them to serve God. That should work, right? I started doing minor design work for the church newsletter. I started a Christian webcomic. I changed Rival into a Christian label. I started taking requests for commissioned artwork that would be done for charities, benefits, and ministries. I thought that I was doing what God had wanted me to do. To use the talents he had given me to bring honor and glory to him. I was wrong. While it is important to use your God given talents to bring glory to him, it still wasn’t what he was telling me to do.
I had effectively found out how to cure the broken home. The immoral behaviors that tear families apart. To end for my family the pain I experienced as a child. How could I then, after spending my entire adult life trying to figure out how to fix our broken society, sit on this information and horde it up all for myself? How could I be content knowing what God had done for me and not share it with others? How could I know how much strength Christ will give you to forgive and love, but only allow my family to reap the benefits? I can’t. I won’t. This is my promise: I will love and follow Christ with all of my life. I will submit to the will of God and allow myself to be moved by the Holy Spirit rather than trying to force the Holy Spirit to adhere to my will. I will tell the world what God has done for us because it is what God has always expected me to do.
Continued in Pigeon Holed Revisited part 2!