we have a something
that some things miss when they know
something is amiss
Your eyes are on me
when mine aren’t on you
I’ve been told I should’ve seen your face when you do
I never thought I’d find
Someone who looks at me
The way they say you do
Maybe one day I’ll catch you
I’ve missed moments before
— signs, signals, hints
I could’ve lived a life without you
Forgive my aloofness
I pay attention when it matters
You are all that matters
Ours is a love that simmers
Housed in pots instead of pans
We prefer the depth
We pour ourselves into its more
Knowing fully the time it would add to heat
But we have faith in the fire
We know this flame will last
[Note: This is an e-mail that I had sent to the people I am about to go on tour with. We were asked to share something about ourselves, and this week was my turn. Below is the post].
Hello everyone, sorry for the late in the week post.
My name is Joseph, and it is a pleasure seeing and (eventually) meeting everyone whom I haven’t yet met. I’m from Hawaii and moved to California to live out various dreams, including music and teaching. When I’m not making or playing music, I’m designing and building custom chandeliers for the hospitality industry. But the one thing I want to share with you today is a word that’s only 0.5 inches in distance but immense in its length; it’s something we all have experienced the same amount of, but also something we have a completely different relationship with:
About one month before 2014 ended, I thought about what I had been through, the journey I had been on, and how it would inform and form 2015. I looked at all the risks I took in 2014, and how much life I had experienced through the uncertainty of choices I had made, with nothing but God’s promise telling me that no matter the outcome, He would be there. Where 2014 had been defined as my year of Risk, I knew that 2015 would have another driving thematic element to it that could only exist with Risk as the foundation: Movement.
I never knew what kind of “movement” I would experience this year, but so far, seven months in, it’s amazing how much movement can occur without actually going somewhere. That, there’s so much opportunity within one’s soul to move and transition — and it only makes sense to me now, in retrospect, that many of the things I needed to deal with initially were all internal – moving on from a toxic relationship, or moving on mentally from a place of depression and insecurity, to relying on all the experience gained from last year’s theme of Risk as a motivator to step out into a still unknowable, still uncertain future, however differentiated now with a courage and boldness to face it. This new outlook could have only be attained by living a life where the only way for me to survive was for God to follow through and show up — which He did, and right on time, which usually in my life is at the last second. And even though there’s the same number of unknowns, and nothing has changed in difficulty, and there are still so many uncertainties, there is an increase in my soul’s ability to trust that a life is available for me to live, with a passion that’s bigger than those worries.
I am so grateful that in these coming weeks we will be embarking on an amazing mission to tell a game-changing narrative with the raw materials we already have in our possession – our stories. I love that we don’t have to be anything but ourselves to make a change in someone’s life. And I love that our maximum impact and influence comes from that authenticity, and nothing else. It’s amazing to me that being a part of this greater purpose coincides perfectly with the theme driving my year, and that I finally get to externalize it, physically moving in a manner that’s congruent to the internal shiftings that have been shaping the kind of person I have always wanted to become. My life has never been about what I want to make — it has always been dedicated to who I want to become.
One last thought to share – reframing how I view “time” has become such an important aspect of my journey this year, and I am constantly being made more aware of its value — from Mondays to Fridays I have grown immensely conscious of how I spend the 40 hours I have dedicated to my job, the 40 hours I set aside for sleep, and the 40 I have remaining to spend on developing myself and my other passions and stewarding that well. For me, doing the quick math, I am honored and so immensely grateful for the upcoming opportunity to spend about 1,000 hours (24hrs * 7days * 6wks) with all of you on this tour! If we broke that out as if we saw each other 8 hours a day like we would at a normal 9-5 job, we would be spending the equivalent of 6 months together (1008hrs / 40hrs a week / 4weeks a month). That’s a lot of time, and it will be an adventure worth every second.
Looking forward to making every moment count with you all,
Share Your Story Tour | Fall 2015
15 SEPT | Santa Ana, CA | Buy Tickets
16 SEPT | Phoenix, AZ | Buy Tickets
17 SEPT | Salt Lake City, UT | Buy Tickets
20 SEPT | Denver, CO | Buy Tickets
22 SEPT | Little Rock, AR | Buy Tickets
23 SEPT | Nashville, TN | Buy Tickets
24 SEPT | Atlanta, GA | Buy Tickets
26 SEPT | Tallahassee, FL | Buy Tickets
27 SEPT | Orlando, FL | Buy Tickets
29 SEPT | Charlotte, NC | COMING SOON
30 SEPT | Vienna, VA | Buy Tickets Meet&Greet
03 OCT | New York City, NY | Buy Tickets
Those are the areas of focus that I have been working on in my life since the beginning of 2014. It’s been a crazy half of a year so far, and in these past two months I have been growing and stretching in some of the most excruciating ways that have demanded so much of my character to get chiseled in this painful, slow process.
If the same situation happens to you a dozen and one times, it gets pretty safe to assume that the situation happens because of you – that you’re the problem.
Or rather, I’m the problem.
I have to embrace and confront the possibility that perhaps I am the reason that I am unloved. I am the reason why I don’t get chosen. I’m the reason why things don’t work out. My undeveloped character informs the poor decisions I make that drive others away, that drive the relationships I’ve had away from me and into the arms of others.
I have to accept the fact that the brand of love I have to give just doesn’t interest most people, and I can’t be bitter at them for not choosing me. Sometimes people prefer other flavors. And at the very least I should be thankful that they gave me a try.
I have to realize that the “hope” I hold out for in my head and my heart, the hope that one day they would realize how wonderful I am or whatever… that it isn’t hope at all – it’s bitterness. It’s unforgiveness. It’s actually a desire to get back at them. It’s a desire to get the last laugh by fantasizing that they would come back and apologize. And it’s disgusting that I let myself even think of people who hurt me that way.
It doesn’t surprise me that my current love interest has set her eyes on someone else. In my life, it’s happened to me ever since the 9th grade. And I grew so heavy from the numerous times it has happened, and all the bitterness and unforgiveness I held onto. I grew very heavy. My heart is currently heavy. I’ve realized what happens is each time I have gone through something like this, I find myself letting go eventually. But I’ve never actually walked away from the place where I left it – it’s just something I’ve never done yet. And I need to. Because every time it happens again, I find myself picking back up every burden that I’ve let go of from my past, and I get heavier and heavier because I’ve never actually moved on. I need to not only let go, but I need to let go and move on.
And now I have to actually let the process of moving on do its complete work of changing my character. I no longer want to be bitter. I no longer want to imagine a situation where I desire power over someone because the person they left me for broke their heart. I want to be the kind of man who prays blessings onto the relationships of those I care about, and that includes who they are with now. I no longer want bitterness to remain in my heart, nor do I want to allow it to masquerade as “being hopeful.”
I want to be a person who has forgiven, who has forgiven myself, and who hopes truly for a future where the both of us are truly happy. I remember telling her that all I wanted for her was for her to be happy, even if it meant finding that with someone who isn’t me. I said that thinking that would never happen, but now that it is a reality, I want to truly believe it and mean it with all my heart.
Love has to do what it must. It has to do what is right. It has to do what is healthy. Love must rejoice in what is good, what is beautiful, what is true, and I no longer want to accept anything less than those ideals in my life and in my relationships.
I truly have to commend her for having the courage to do what I couldn’t do – stop talking to each other, because our conversations were the source of my pain. I have to realize that what she did must have been difficult and hard, and I as the man should’ve been the one to commit to it, but I didn’t. She did. Maybe it was easier because she had someone else she was interested in to talk to. Perhaps. But that’s irrelevant when it comes to my healing, my journey, and my quest to restore my heart back to a place where it can love again.
The miracle is finding someone who you can give all your love to, and not have to worry about not getting all of someone else’s love in return. We settle for less all the time in arenas where we should endeavor to deserve someone’s best. I have to accept that the energy that I am willing to give and pour and invest into someone… that sometimes, you could be pouring into someone who is just simply less willing to do the same. And it’s okay. We just have to keep going until we find someone who does.
Overall I am proud of myself for how I handled this relationship. I got really close to being the kind of man I wanted to be for someone. Even in our rocky beginnings, I was proud of the person I was. It was in the pursuit of her love that I learned that it was within my grasp to be kind, to be generous, to be giving, to be attentive, to be understanding, to be patient, to be a good human being. That whenever a relationship fell apart, this time I chose not to self-destruct. This was the only time that I ran straight to God when my soul started to break, and I can be proud that I made that choice.
It’s time for me to move on, to learn, to be happy for her, to be kind to others, to pray blessing on their budding relationship, and to mean those prayers each day I mutter them. It’s time for me to never tire of doing what is good, what is right, and to start trusting that there, too, is a hope, a love, and someone out there for me too. I have to keep pursuing. I have to keep growing. I have to keep forgiving. I have to keep being grateful. And I have to keep being bold.
It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself through just one relationship.
By engaging in this one relationship, I have experienced every emotion, and have begun to discover the capacity of my soul to feel joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, hope and despair.
And I have treasured every second of it, and have begun to embrace the fullest measure of all that I have experienced so far.
The biggest lesson I have been learning is the stillness of pursuit. There is a constant ebb and flow that happens; a push and pull. This woman has been in my life for almost a year now, and we have gone from strangers to friends, friends to best friends, best friends to friends that have confessed their feelings, friends that have confessed their feelings to friends who are unsure, friends who are unsure to friends that are estranged, and friends that are estranged to friends who have grown and reconciled, and finally friends who have grown and reconciled to friends that have a uniquely complicated relationship that is no longer easy to define.
Through every stage, I have had to battle with issues that have been deeply rooted in me ever since I started dating. I was a timid kid. Somewhat shy, comfortable in his own skin but very insecure overall. And I haven’t been in the best relationships either. Looking back my timidity had been mistranslated into cowardice, and sometimes it was. Looking back my desire to spend time with her had been translated as jealousy or too persistent, and sometimes it was.
But after meeting this woman, I embarked on this journey that would forever change me. It was a relationship that I stepped into that finally challenged me to be the man I always wanted to be. It made me want to finally fight for someone. It made me want to pursue.
For almost a year it’s been a constant struggle for me to continue to fight. It took me six months to finally muster the courage to ask her out, after spending all this time voluntarily in the friend zone. I was comfortable as her friend, but I was also miserable, watching her enter into a relationship and watching myself do absolutely nothing about it, even though I knew I was better. I watched myself grow sad, I allowed the situation to defeat me, and I let that circumstance erode my self-esteem. But it also made me treasure the friendship we had. And it helped me practice the art of gratitude over bitterness. One thing I learned from the experience is that you can still practice kindness even when things don’t go your way. That even if you don’t get the girl, you can still endeavor to be the man you always wanted to be. That you can still choose to be a force of love and good, even when you get nothing in return. In my past I was a very jealous, bitter, spiteful person, and it brought me comfort to know that I could still choose love, even when it felt like love would never choose me. That I could do it for a woman I loved even if she never wanted to move into romance.
I was halfway across the world when she told me that relationship ended. I wanted to hug her but I was as far away as one could possibly be. We continued to talk, and when she went overseas herself, our relationship started a blossoming process that grew into something more than friends. We began to flirt, she wanted to tell me everything that was happening there, I re-arranged my sleep schedule to be awake when she was. Even though we were on opposite sides of the world, I never felt closer to her. Then we had a conversation that challenged me even more. And I made a decision to ask her out when she came back.
One thing to keep in mind about this whole relationship, by the way, is that our timing is terrible. Like, it’s laughably, outrageously bad. It’s one of the things we joke about. In any case, I was so nervous about a week before she would arrive back home. I drafted this whole spiel of what to say, how much she meant to me, the adventure I would like to live out with her, and it hit her like a ton of bricks… both in a good way and a bad way. It was good because I finally got tell a woman I loved how I felt, and even more so that she shared the same feelings about me. The bad news was, well, the timing. She needed space, she was depleted from the trip, exhausted from a battle she constantly fights, and this confession was just too overwhelming. And after about two months of me pursuing more and her not having a clear response to give back, things just subsided.
Here is where the real learning started to begin. The real, hard-hitting, heart-wrenching lessons that I have had the displeasure of going through. I found myself waning in my previously unconditional type of love. The constant force of good I was so intentional about creating and exuding in her life was starting to turn more selfish, darker, more possessive. All of a sudden, the struggle to keep bitterness at bay became an all-out war inside me, as if there was a dam of it that I had no idea was piling up and growing and starting to spill over the walls. I found myself overwhelmed, and I finally discovered the limits of my seemingly infinite amount of patience that I once had. The struggle became real. I started to feel so, so lonely. So depressed. I started to lose my faith. I started to lose hope. I started to lose sight of the idea of love. The things I once proudly championed were starting to feel like false truths that I had no idea why I believed it in the first place. It was a dark and dangerous place to be. I started to say things out of frustration and loneliness that eventually just drained her. Our conversations that were once productive started to just go into circles and find no resolution. The closeness we once had started to drift. And I was painfully aware of it happening and felt powerless to stop it. I felt out of control of my own actions and wreaking havoc upon a relationship that I so desperately wanted to keep intact. That my grip on what I wanted was so tight that it was constricting the life of the one I only wanted to give myself to. That my jealousy wasn’t flattering but smothering. And it was painful to release her in the end…
I say all this not so you could feel bad for me, but to understand the process of what I have been going through. Like I said in the beginning, this relationship has challenged me, stretched me, and grew me in ways I never thought possible. It’s for that reason that this relationship still means so much to me, because it has made me painfully aware of my limitations and how much more growing I need to do. It made me realize how unprepared and not ready I am to be entrusted with a heart. At least not right now.
I’ve learned how much I desire control. I’ve learned how much not getting what I want upsets me. I’ve learned that sometimes I say things because it sounds like I care about their happiness, but really I say it to be manipulative and get someone to be what I want them to be before they’re ready to be it. I’ve been truly learning how to remain still and letting the moment be enough. To let the process do its work in me, to mature me, because what I’m learning in these moments are crucial elements being forged inside of me to help me retain the relationship that it will eventually be. That I am just not ready for that kind of caliber of a relationship. That I can’t just throw a tantrum and be passive aggressive when I don’t get what I want. That I need to cultivate even more patience and more forgiveness and more gratitude because the kind of relationship I want to have requires that I go through this process.
I am learning that to pursue with my love is sometimes to be still. That perhaps the timing is so wrong because I’m rushing things out of excitement and immaturity. That there is virtue in giving space, and there is no rush. After all, in the grand scheme of things, even a couple of years of being alone and never hanging out is worth it if it creates a lifetime together with each other. That love, perseverance, and kindness wins if you give it a chance to blossom in your life. That confidence and masculinity is vulnerability, and wisdom is knowing when to be that way. That growth is learning to bear the weight of the consequences of your mistakes, and letting that texture and shape your character. That when you choose to persevere through unimaginably, unbearably difficult moments, you start to acquire all the skills you need to nurture the relationship that you will one day be entrusted to nourish and put effort into. That you can love someone by being still. You can pursue with prayer, and you can pursue with patience. You start to realize the loneliness of not being chosen, but then that leaves your soul with the realization that God has chosen you. You start to realize that when God is all you have left, He becomes everything you have ever needed.
So, the ride isn’t over. There is still so much to go through, so many decisions to make, so much to keep persevering through. So much to learn. So much to grieve about, and so much to feel joy about. I’ve already gone this far, and I have already been challenged by so many situations, and as many as I have failed, I have succeeded in many. I keep asking God to take this all away, and all He says to me is, “I’m here.” I have been victorious in battles I never thought I’d win, and I have lost battles I thought were in the bag. But I want my life to be an example of what it means to persevere, not because there is a girl at the end, but because it shows the power of what love can do. I want to overcome not so my life has a good ending and I get the girl, but because the world needs to know that love can win and it must win. And I will never stop pursuing this goal to have love win, even if it means I have to be still for a very long time.