Finding Balance with Passion

So a friend asked me this in a text:

Hey bro, how are you? Was thinking of you and wondering how you balance worship and audio team, and factor in doing what you are passionate about, creative about… I know the heart of our ministry is to do what is needed by the church, curious how you balance all that…

I thought about it for a couple days, why I serve so much and so faithfully, and how I’ve found a balance with it all… so I wanted to share my response with him in hopes it helps someone else understand what I do and why I do it… The “WHY” is a big part of it and I answer the “why” below:

Hey bro, so sorry to not have responded to this until just now – work has been so crazy and I’ve been moving almost every night into the new space, but now that I have a moment I can respond!

I think at the heart of things, I’m passionate about both playing worship and mixing audio, and for me they carry equal weight in terms of the standard for excellence. For audio, I love the harmony that I can create, because I love how I am a steward of the sonic landscape of the worship that is happening on stage. To me, it’s so important that there’s no distracting barrier for someone to not engage in Worship, and in the world of audio, that means creating an excellent mix. Not only that, but being a part of the Worship team for almost 5 years now, I am mixing my friends, and each fader represents the talent of someone I love and know well. To be able to mix their excellence in with other people’s all is my greatest joy.

In music, I am passionate about designing and creating sounds and arrangements, or to put it in your words, make my content and what comes out of my instrument “usable” – I am passionate about music directing and shaping the team and leading from the backend by directing them where to go and how to play. I work toward making a seamless, distraction-free environment for a speaker, for a worship set, and for an invitation – those are so sacred, and I do my best to play in a way that matches the ebbs and flows and tones of whatever is happening on stage.

But what it comes down to is creating something that I feel makes God more attractive and more beautiful – and that it edifies the leadership who are spearheading the movement of Jesus through Mosaic. I am passionate about that and create from that posture. The goal is to find joy and meaning in whatever it is, and truth be told if I don’t have an innate passion for something, but I see that it is needed, I will serve that cause. But if I know it’s not where I’m most active, then I’ll find the person who is more passionate about it, and who can find more life from it.

Ultimately, that’s why I chose to prioritize worship over broadcast, but not until I found a team of 2-3 guys who loved doing it, and wanted to pursue it farther than I ever would desire. I stepped down from broadcast as a ministry leader because when I looked down the road at what was possible in that ministry, and what more I could do in the craft to get better, that was a road I didn’t desire to go down any farther, and what I was doing was all I ever wanted to do and no more. And because I was unwilling to step into more, I had to make room and step out of the way and find someone who wanted to go farther than that. I love music production and engineering in a studio environment, and that will never go away, and those skills translate well into a live environment, albeit it’s not a full translation. Ultimately though there was a need, and I filled it, and if called upon, I will continue to fill it. I just had to make my focus to train and train and recruit and find people, which I was blessed to find in South Pas.

In worship, more looked like raising the younger generation of youth, especially at South Pas… it’s about translating the joy of discovery through hard work and practice that develops the discipline of a life rooted in God. And for the church, worship is its heartbeat, and we’re translating that beat through the mains. But I know that obedience and servanthood is a battle, too… I think the best way I’ve avoided burnout is really diving into community, and the way I balanced the hard times is due in large part to the grace of other people when things went wrong, and the insanely fun times I had with my friends that I was constantly growing closer with, and also when there were massive wins. It’s hard to balance all that when lots of variables outside your control change the landscape of the venue despite being as prepared as possible, but I learned how to just have a great attitude about it – and you have the freaking BEST attitude and I want to be around you constantly!

Lastly, my greatest passion, in a weird way, is just the maximization process and making things excellent through efficiency. I love fine-tuning and finding ways to do something better, faster, easier, and there is a lot of that in both worship and audio. There’s always a way to make the next gathering better, there’s always a better process, and when I discover that, it brings me tons of joy.

Happy to talk more about this bro, and see if I answered your question! Hope you enjoyed hearing what I had to say and would love any feedback or comments. Maybe COFFEE?? I want to get to know you more!”

 

Advertisements

Love Defined. (April 2017)

A

“Love Defined” is an intermittent series of writings that reflect the way “love” continuously gets redefined in my life over the course of my experiences over time. My goal is to have a record of the way love matures and manifests itself in action as I continually give it and practice it in my life.

Love Defined in April 2017:

Love is an continuous act of respecting a person’s decision to reject you — though I fail at honoring this about twice a week, I am learning that love and respect are so interconnected and need to co-exist. I used to think that “lack of communication” is the downfall of many relationships, but I now believe that underlying the communication is the level of respect two people have for each other. When that respect is lost, then even good communication won’t really matter. I have to come to terms is that what was being lost over time unbeknownst to me was mutual respect – of each other’s time, of each other’s commitments, of each other’s needs. This lack is probably why I still find myself wanting to keep in contact despite knowing better. This next month, the goal is to fully and truly honor the decision of the rejection, continually choosing to respect space that was desired.

Love is the coming to terms with what love looks like now — have you ever wondered how much suffering you’re able to take on simply because you love someone else? It’s astounding how much bandwidth I have for “punishment” and “pain” because of how much “love equity” I possess with someone. I think the breakup process is the gradual exhausting of that love tank, so that you’re able to actually objectively observe the condition of the relationship, and make better decisions about your own health. I absolutely hate having to “demote” someone who no longer wants my heart from the position of “significant other” to “just-as-significant-as-the-rest-of-my-friends.” As someone who has committed the past three years of his life to voraciously communicating edifying, uplifting words to others, to actually say beautiful things that I have in my heart to tell them that I see in them, it really really sucks that the relationship is no longer in a place where they can receive it in the way I want to express it. But that’s where it is now – they have chosen to lower their level of significance in my life and therefore it’s no longer appropriate to affirm who they are to me at that level. The only encouragement for me is knowing that God can actually take over and surround that person with even better words and encouragement and life that I could only dream of saying. In fact, I know that’s the conversation God has always been having, and knowing that, I am glad and more able to step away.

Love is a truth-teller that is not concerned with making you feel better — A breakup is when you decide someone isn’t worth your time anymore. That they are no longer worth fighting for. That the value of your life increases when they are removed from it. That you believe in a future where you are happier without them than you are with them, and you want to invest in that future. That’s the subtext behind the action. That’s why it hurts – it’s a rejection that has evidence. They tried you out and decided that in the long term you were not for them. But love is always revealing truth, and that truth does provide the necessary perspective to focus on health and wisdom. And the truth is that I will never know what is in her heart, and it will never be shared or made known to me. That evidence is clear. The wisdom, however, I am gaining from this process become the guideposts that will help position me better for when love for someone else arouses in me again eventually.

This is why this site exists. Why I exist.

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn questions with a strong, simple, “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose […]

“write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty–describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place[…]

“Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. — And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


If you’ve come here, welcome! … This is my life. Here are my writings:

Love Defined. (March 2017)

M

“Love Defined” is an intermittent series of writings that reflect the way “love” continuously gets redefined in my life over the course of my experiences over time. My goal is to have a record of the way love matures and manifests itself in action as I continually give it and practice it in my life.

Love Defined in March 2017:

Love is not found in the strength of its grip but in the tenderness of its release — of my role as a pursuer, stepping down as the warrior determined to win her love, setting down my weapons of words, setting aside my climbing gear that I’ve used to scale the walls surrounding her heart. It is a submission to respect her desire, her wish.

Love is an offering — of my role as her future partner, a stepping aside, making that position available, trusting that the next person will far surpass the standard I’ve set, exceed expectations, who will deliver an authentic love that resonates from deeply within him that her soul will respond to naturally.

Love is a submission of authorship — the origin story of our relationship made me prideful. I gloated and bragged about how I pursued her, how I asked her out, that while God was clearly in the beginning of the story, in control over its authorship, over time I kept wanting the pen; I wanted to keep writing the words. I wanted to be the director of the story… the re-director. The truth is that God saw the relationship coming to the end, and similar to the tragic outcome of so many great TV shows that suffer from far too many seasons, running too long and becoming more and more irrelevant, I wound up diluting the poignancy and depth of the relationship by adding in too many chapters. Rather than the passionate short story it was supposed to be, it instead became a strung out relationship story of faded, fraying worth.

Love is a transition done well — viewing the relationship ending as a transition, not as one person quitting. The truth is that the relationship was over months before the actual breakup, and recently, as I have taken in and  re-read books and plays that are dear to her, and as more time goes on, the more I’m hearing confirmation of the death of the relationship, rather than a temporary season that will eventually end with us getting back together. Paulo Coelho said, “anyone who’s lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.” I am equally afraid of facing the feelings of rejection and abandonment as I am the feeling of guilt from moving on… but love is letting someone win without you rather than letting them lose with you. Love as a transition means that we are released to become more as individuals than we would ever be as a couple. She is free to transition from a relationship with me into her thriving future as a storyteller; I am released to transition into a man of character and into a person who can experience the greatest season of growth that will become the bedrock of my future. And if, along the way, we encounter our respective lifelong partners, then we have ultimately loved each other well by transitioning well.

Love is not the reward of doing the right thing — I am proud of how I have loved. While it may not have won me the heart of the actual person I was loving, I do believe that it was all worth it, and I got to practice loving someone humanely with patience and quiet strength. I have discovered the way I want to love someone in the eyes of my peers and in the eyes of God. I am not ashamed of the light that surrounded my decisions. I am not less of a man because I honored her “no.” Doing the right thing regardless of the outcome is the essence of love. Acting in love is a scarce resource that is produced so little by the people in this world, and it is a rare force that many fear, especially when it is misunderstood. Love is not a tool that draws attention to a cause… Love must be the cause.

Listen.

“To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us… to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
— Mark Nepo, The Exquisite Risk

I am by far having one of the hardest years of my life. And it’s only February.

The battle is mental, spiritual. I’m desperate to hear God’s voice, and I find myself teetering on the edge of wanting to end it all… I’ve never cried so many tears nor have I ever spent so much time on my knees at the edge of my bed praying, face flat into the pillow, asking God to show up, taking a break to look up at my phone to switch between social media and Google searches for for affordable therapists, then back to prayer.

It’s been chaotic in my soul, to say the least.

One thing I can appreciate, though, is the battle. I’ve never fought so hard for anything before. There’s something to be revealed in me through the way I have been clawing and clamoring, demanding answers from God, petitioning for peace within my soul, asking God to fulfill my need to feel loved, to matter…

Slowly I can feel myself discovering my worth. Discovering what God is up to with my story, and the character I’m supposed to be in other people’s stories. I never seem to run out of encouragement for others, especially toward my girlfriend. The real battle is for me to encourage myself, though. And sometimes that looks like me just needing to shut up and listen.

It’s not always clear to me when God speaks. I feel like I do most of the talking. And I find that I don’t have much patience for dead space. But maybe that’s exactly what I need to get used to — often in my boredom I desire to just fill up my space with tons of nonsense and distractions. I haven’t really learned the discipline to be still and listen. Even when God doesn’t speak.

The truth is I’ve been spending more time with God than I ever have, and I’m always convicted that it’s only during times of extreme duress like this. It’s pretty crazy to think that God feels so much unrequited, jilted love from so many of His creation. And how often I ditch him when things start to get better. I never truly include Him in my life – He’s only my center when  I cry out and let Him drive,  when everything spirals out of control as a result of me trying to steer my own life.

So I am just trying to listen more… to pay attention, to train myself to be alert at all times, to be ready for when the moment God does speak, I’ll be aware. Until then, I am starting to understand that there is no immediate rescue plan, that maybe God wants me in this turmoil a little longer, to make me a little stronger, and if I continue in that perspective I can’t help but be grateful.

Maybe an answer won’t come, maybe a great revelation or audible voice won’t dawn on me. Maybe God is just enjoying that I’m near and responsive to Him again. And truthfully, even when there is no answer, I do feel loved. And that’s the proof of God’s presence, after all.

Why Trust Matters.

“We expend so much energy, watching, calculating, trying to predict, reading signals in people, ready for anything to change suddenly, preparing to be disappointed. So much energy spent.

“We talk about trust as something you build, as if it is a structure or thing. but in that building there seems to be something about letting go. and what it affords us is a luxury. it allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won’t catch us if we fall, to stop scanning for inconsistencies, to stop wondering how people act when not in our presence. it allows us to relax a part of our minds, so it can focus on what is in front of us.”

Hope and Space.

“Something changes in the universe when you confess, admit, and declare truth. It seems that when you speak it out, truth is invited in.”
– Jamie George, Love Well

I’m a broken man… I want to acknowledge this. To you.

I know that I can vein vulnerability pretty well, I know that I can essentially hide the things that really bother me and divert the cause to something more menial.

But I know you’re more wise and keen than that.

So I want to own up. I want to share. I can’t heal what I can’t acknowledge. And I want to do this because I want to restore my hope in us again. I want to return to the place of beautiful, mutual vulnerability, and make those moments the cornerstones of what we are building together.

I want a relationship that is thriving, healthy, authentic, unstuck. One where we have access to each other without feeling like we have over-extended, where we are each getting what we are putting in. One that is brimming with hope, wonder, excitement, butterflies; one where guilt is put into perspective and is dealt with swiftly; one where even the simplest and faintest of communication is teeming with life-giving, game-changing love.

I want to believe that we can create that. I want to have hope again. I want to cling onto that hope and grip tightly until my knuckles are white.

This month I’ve found myself growing more numb. It started when I started sensing distance from you during the trip and couldn’t put my finger on it. And there was no space to acknowledge or talk about it. We have talked since, and while we have moved past it, truthfully I have to admit that even after much reflection, I still cannot pinpoint where I miscommunicated my gratitude for you on the trip. I would very much like to know this, I want to grow, I want to learn. I need help discovering where that was so I have the wisdom and awareness to deal with it.

Through that experience and later on in the month, I have started to feel in my soul that I had started to withdraw and change up my values to feel less pain. My speech and texts were cold. I realize that the danger in numbing myself was making me miss and appreciate the moments that you did give me, ones that were plainly you making the effort and giving your all. But I had numbed myself to the point where I couldn’t even acknowledge the sacrifices you were making. I was only concerned and focused on the sacrifices that I was making. I was glorifying my own efforts in my own thoughts, I was stoking my own ego, and I was taking back affirmation that I felt I was being denied. I know that these are huge unattractive qualities and I know how allergic you are to ego. And I see it developing in my life. I am acknowledging it’s presence, confirming it’s ugliness, and understanding the distance it can cause. I want it gone, and the way to get it out is to bring it to light and hit it with Truth.

I want to be clear and honest — my encouragement to you is real, it is authentic. It is the version of me that I am choosing in faith and doing the work so that I can believe it with my feelings too. And believe me, whenever I have told you that I have prayed for you, I did it. Every time.

I am also sorry that I have plagued our conversations with frameworks around “love languages” that clearly are not helping the conversation, nor do I feel that they apply to our communication. I want to apologize for this and say sorry for trying to put our uniqueness in a box and for continuing to try to explain us in that context. I want to tell you that I’m rejecting that attempt and I will simply just “be” and pay more attention to your sacrifices, your efforts. I no longer want to be blind to them and so affixed on my needs and the way I need to feel loved. We are unique individuals with our own method and brand of love and communication, and I need to pay more attention to you and discover the value in the way you communicate with me on my own.

I want to acknowledge that I have been sensing distance… avoidance, even.. I want to acknowledge this and create a space to talk about that. I’ve noticed that it’s tricky to schedule face-to-face time with you. I am wondering if it’s because of a fear of what is on my mind or what I want to discuss. The truth is that I’m just at a point where I just want to have a relationship, and I don’t care if we talk about us at all — I just want to “be” with you. I know you are hustling, making it work, and I have been respecting your time as best as I could. I will say though that not spending time with you is creating more numbness about our whole situation, and I find myself losing hope.

I do not want to lose hope. I do not want to go numb.

I want life. I want relationship. I want communication. I want fun. I want to be myself and fight for hope in us again. I want to fight. I want to be battle ready for the other hardships that will come. I want to talk. I want us to fight because that vulnerability is the soil where connection blooms. I want my girlfriend. I want to be real. I want Truth to be invited back into our space….

Space.

Space… huh. (please wait while brain switches gears…. *krrrrzzztt*)

In experiencing the love of God more intensely this week alone, I am now understanding that I do not love you well. We don’t love each other well. I am constantly trying to throw my words and support at you as if to goad you into loving me the way I want to, and getting frustrated when it doesn’t work. You withdraw from the pressure and feeling  inadequacy. Until this moment I have lived in denial — denying that perhaps you too are in just as much pain, but in a different way. We’re both sensing that something isn’t right, that there is a disconnection. And maybe space gives us time to recollect ourselves. It worked for you toward me, it allowed you to forgive me, the only issue was that I did not know that that was going on at the time when we were having space and I didn’t get a chance to utilize it simultaneously.

But I do see the value in it.

“Harassed by life, exhausted, we look about us for somewhere to be quiet, to be genuine, a place of refreshment. We yearn to restore our spirits in God.”
– Hars Urs von Balthasar

I’ve been a coward this whole time..  deep within me there is a deep fear of disappointing you, of not being enough too, of disapproval. of not speaking up about how I really feel whenever things change or plans fall through. the facade that keeps me from being real. the fear of losing you.

But if in the end if I lose you, there is a faithful God – He is good. He has a beautiful, full future for both of us.

Regardless, in the same way that spaces in this sentence allows room for understanding, maybe I need to give my soul some space to grow up and appreciate you for who you really are, what you really do for me. The way you cause me to grow. The way you make me see how Beautiful God can be. I want to know your thoughts on this.

On Tuesday I want to celebrate what we have done right. And I wanted to give us space after the celebration. I want to practice how to actively wait. How to reset and be okay. How to miss you properly without injecting guilt. How it feels to limit access to you and get my life together. I see you are already getting yours together, and I have much to learn.

I would love this to be our launching off point when we talk. OR we can just be and celebrate. Either way, I have something for you.

Choosing you always,

Joseph