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!”

 

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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

Your eyes are on me

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

Fortunately
You are all that matters

-JP

Boldness. Forgiveness. Gratitude.

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.

Stillness and Pursuit

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.