Now, make no mistake, work ethic is important. Doing good quality work is vital. But work should not be the defining thing in our lives. We are meant to be so much more than our work and what we do. We are beings so beautifully creative, diverse, and talented; that just to be regulated and remembered for our work seems to fall short in the grand scheme of things.

I feel that I am just beginning this transition into the “second half” of life earlier than I expected. Yet, in finding that I have shed much of my identity that I developed in the “first half”, I’ve gone from the crisis phase to an embracing phase which is much more comforting.

I grew up believing that my former faith was rock solid. That faith can be certain. That faith was black and white. That faith knew all the answers to all of the questions. That faith was consistent. Yet, the more I read. The more I studied. The more I sought wisdom. The more I lived and the more I reasoned... I realized that faith isn’t any of those things. True religion isn’t any of those things.

Most are comfortable in the religion of their youth or their spiritual beginning and never consider or examine their own beliefs and look outside of that to see if what they actually believe is true. It doesn’t matter if you are intelligent or “unintelligent”, most people are satisfied with never growing or maturing in their faith. Most are never curious about their beliefs. Most are never open to other ways of viewing religion.

I realized that for 10 years of my life... and possibly longer in my younger years... I believed, internalized, and preached a dangerous, destructive message. A message that has oppressed people. A message that has caused people to take their lives. A message that as subjected people to violence. A message that has tried to change people when they can’t and shouldn’t be changed.

Without sounding like a Luddite, I have to agree with Lady Gaga’s sentiments she made on a late night talk show recently when she stated that social media is the “toilet of the internet”. But when I got to thinking about this statement more, I realized that it isn’t social media itself that is the problem... but something attached to social media platforms...

Unfortunately, this is a horrible time for the church. Let me make it clear, it is the church alone to blame for its maladies, not those who have been victimized by the church. Megachurches and their “celebrity pastors” are falling left and right. Denominations are splitting over how to love their LGBTQ neighbors. Other denominations and churches are caught up in sex abuse scandals. At this rate, why do we as Christians blame those who are not Christian with their resentments and their skepticism about the church? Furthermore, why as Christians do we blame other Christians for why they leave the church?

It just seems like yesterday when Kristen told me that she was pregnant with our child. The look on her face was priceless. She was so enthralled and enraptured with the news and I was in shock and bewilderment. Yes, we were “trying” and yes, this was the outcome I wanted; but when it actually happens… when you feel like your whole world is shifting right before your eyes… it does something to you… right down to your core.

I would argue that work is different than purpose. Work is something you do to provide for your basic needs and/or the basic needs of others. Purpose is what you are passionate about and how you want to live out that passion. The greatest thing one can do is merge these two realities together. That makes work less of a drudgery and more of a pleasure. But how do we find the epicenter of these two realities?

We live in a society where we are so far from the idea of civil discourse that we find ourselves deeply entrenched in our own sphere of comfort. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with finding a community where you feel safe, loved and valued in; but at the same time if you don’t have a good grasp on what is going on around you, then there is no way you can be effective in knowing how to react to the issues we face as a culture.

Sometimes life will spring forth something new, something exciting, something that makes our heart flutter with joy bursting forth.

These are positive moments that originate due to factors such as hard work, determination, a pinch of luck and a big dose of divine intervention (if you believe in such, I personally do).

Opportunity is a moment when we decide whether to pursue something new or to keep doing what we are doing. All opportunities do not need to be pursued but all opportunities should be considered.

Whenever something happens that disrupts these things we desire, we are faced with how to react to the change... the disruption in our lives.

Most of us go through a short time of panic and anger because things were comfortable and nice and neat, but now things are not so and we must figure out how to get things back to the way they were... or more accurately, the way things should be.

You didn’t ask for these things to happen and, hell, you probably fought the windmill called “free will” to determine that your life would not face these obstacles.

And you fight, and fight, and fight some more: hellbound and blastedly determined that you will control your destiny/fate/future... and yet the struggle still happens. The death still occurs. The loss is still palatable.

Yes, another year has rolled into the annuals of history and a new one has arrived after much anticipation. 

We always look forward to a new year because we see it as a new opportunity to make wrong, right. To make suffering, victory. To make resentment and bitterness, freedom and blissfulness. 

Basically, a new year means change can happen. It’s the hope that things don’t have to stay the way they are but that things can get better. A new year means new opportunities, new movements, new moments.