The Christian Pessimist

The Christian Pessimist

Where I come from the Christian Pessimist is a rare breed, silenced by the sound of a thousand voices crying out “Pardon“, plastered on smiles spread across the faces of the faithful.

It is only in the hidden places that the cracks begin to show. In private, the questions emerge:

Why is the world so dark and full of so much pain?

Why am I still so discontent? I’m unhappy, and I feel guilty for this unhappiness.

I’m trapped in sin, and I am ashamed to admit it. Why do my struggles persist?

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these questions are silenced—the Church is certainly a place that welcomes hardship and pain.  Rather, too often Christians treat despair as a means to an end, insisting that pain is merely a stepping stone that leads us to the happiness of the Cross; we assert that dissatisfaction is something that we are drawn out of once we truly follow Christ.

What recourse is there then when we kneel at the foot of the Cross, and find that weakness and want are still our companions?

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Portlandia: The Wandering City

Portlandia: The Wandering City

Portland is a city of stories.

During my three weeks in the city, I ate lunch with an immigrant from Vietnam, living in Seattle, who visits his girlfriend in Portland every weekend. I sat with a man who trades jokes for food outside a pharmacy (he told me a good one about Jesus and Moses playing golf). I served dinner to a comedic veteran with a brain tumor on his birthday.

I met a young man from New York, who screamed at strangers on the train, and then turned and became incredibly friendly with me. He showed me pictures of his father meeting the President, told me stories about getting an engineering degree, and explained that he had just opened a t-shirt shop at the local mall. He also told me how much he hated Portland, and the people who live there.

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Portlandia: The Leap

Portlandia: The Leap

I have come to the conclusion that for a person like me, being a Christian is incredibly uncomfortable.

There is really no other way to put it. My comfort and The Gospel simply don’t overlap at all. There is a chasm between who I have always seen myself as, and who Christ says I am. My identity in Christ, my purpose in Him, is so vastly separated from my own nature.

The past couple of years I have come into the understanding that what I believe is not just a simple truth. It is not just something I can use to fill up the bits of my life that are lacking. My identity in Christ is something that takes my inadequacy, and replaces it with a far more beautiful story.

And that makes me uncomfortable.

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Ashley Vizcarra: On Going

Ashley Vizcarra: On Going

Ashley Vizcarra (21) is sitting across from me in a rather trendy coffee shop about 10 minutes away from the school we both attend. Our table is covered with the standard college student paraphernalia: books, laptops, cell phones, and iced coffee. We are two of the 20ish students in the room. Despite the piles of schoolwork sitting on our table, we have gotten very little done, because Ashley is busy enthusiastically telling me about her upcoming trip.

I have gotten to know Ashley pretty well over the past year. On the surface she is many things: an Animal Science Student, a cowgirl, and a leader; but if you spend any time with her at all, you will realize that these labels don’t do justice.

What makes Ashley so special is her passion. She is genuinely excited about everything she takes part in, from school, to church, to friendship. In a society so often defined by apathy, it is honestly astounding to see how much she truly cares about everything she does. I am convinced she spends more time smiling in one week than I do in a year.

In 26 days, Ashley is going to Puerto Rico.

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My Testimony: Fear and Faith

My Testimony: Fear and Faith

Have you ever been afraid?

I suppose that is a bad question–of course you have. Though the world teaches us to put on a brave face, fear is universal. Let me try again:

Have you ever not been afraid?

I wish I could brush this question off. I know the answer should be simple, but in reality fear is totally and inseparably a part of my story. For most of my life not only have I lived in fear, but I have been defined, driven, and diminished by it.

Fear has been such an unshakable part of who I am, I’m not sure if I have ever really been free from it. And you know what? That scares me.

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A Letter to my Future Wife

A Letter to my Future Wife

Hey You,
I have something very important to say.

This something is going to be a little bit uncomfortable. It may even venture into the territory of awkward. When you read these words, you might want to yell at me. I ask that you hold off on that, at least for a moment. Please finish this letter before you decide my punishment.

That very important something is this:
You will never be the most important thing in my life.

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My Hero Complex: A Longing for Agency

My Hero Complex: A Longing for Agency

I love stories. I always have.

There is something about a grand journey, an epic struggle, or a wild adventure that just enthralls me. I love the intricate worlds that words can build, and I love the intrigue and excitement of a well constructed plot.

But there is one thing that has always made me absolutely crazy about stories:
The Hero.

As a kid, I imagined myself into a thousand different worlds. The books I read, the movies I watched, the games I played, all of these were ways to shrug off my mundane existence as a relatively mediocre student, sub-par athlete, and member of an unhappy family. I immersed myself in the lives of epic heroes and brave heroines because frankly, my life didn’t seem like a very good story at all.

I think the idea of The Hero was so enticing to me because there is something inside each of us that aches for purpose. We all want to be an agent of influence in some grand plot. We want to be an important part of something spectacular.

So why doesn’t my life look like any of the stories I love?

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Submitting to Authority: How I Learned to Lose

Submitting to Authority: How I Learned to Lose

How do you let a broken, lost, angry fool lead you?

The majority of my 20 years on Earth have been spent trying to run away from this type of authority. Surely those who can’t even manage to keep their own lives from falling apart don’t have any room to tell me how I should be living mine. What wisdom is there to learn from foolishness?

For a long time I thought my resentment of authority stemmed from a lack of respect for those I was called to be under. More specifically, I hated that I was burdened with the arduous task of obeying my parents, two people who were frankly the farthest thing from who I wanted to be.

Growing up, I would often jokingly claim to be adopted when asked about my family. While it came off as a sarcastic jab at our differences, this was my not-so-subtle way of distancing myself from a selfish, cruel mother and an angry, stubborn father. I couldn’t stand being compared to my parents, and I didn’t want people to think that just because I was raised by them, I was like them. I had to keep others from looking at perfect, saintly Jason as an extension of his imperfect family. Humble eh?

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