I don’t feel particularly comfortable talking about some things that I consider to closely border the line between transparency and privacy. Even in the event that it’s meant only to set the stage for talking about other things. That is the hard thing about being transparent. It usually sticks pretty close to that line of things that you’d prefer to keep to yourself. In the case of some things, it’s not necessarily that it’s something I don’t want others to know but more so that it comes with a lot of connotations that can cause a distraction from the real matter at hand. What’s worse than feeling that it steals the focus, is the fear that it is viewed as a loaded statement put out with a hidden agenda. I would prefer not to talk about some things than to talk about them in the chance that they seem to be manipulative. Such is the case with my musings today. In order to really let you know what I’m thinking, I have to shed light on my situation and thought process but there is the discomfort of knowing that the focus could potentially be caught on the matter that is actually meant to be the bed for which the actual point will lie. After deliberation I decided that perhaps a preface such as this one could deter the majority of that threat and I can remain transparent and slightly less uncomfortable than I expect to be.
The topic that has caused such inner conflict is that of my finances. In my story explaining why I will be doing film work in Zambia this summer, I touched briefly on the fact that about a year ago I felt the Spirit calling me to give my life’s work away. That call has been fleshed out in various forms over the past year but currently… well, to be honest, it looks a whole lot like not making any money. Initially it looked a lot like just putting aside the growth of my business, then over time as it was pushed farther and farther aside it looked a lot more like not having a business. Between the last film and the submission to do this one it looked a lot like just having random jobs that I was blessed to have and I’m sure that from the outside looking in it looked quite like something else the whole time. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to know that the longer you go without working, the less you will have. So there’s no need for me to get into the specifics of my situation at present.
I preparation for filming, I watch a lot of films. Specifically films that relate to either the subject matter, or the informative format of the one I will be doing. They are usually either boring or heartbreaking. I spend a lot of time on the latter, being inundated with image after image after image of starving children, races subdued, death, thirst, pain. There are times when I sit all alone on my wood floor in front of my computer and I weep as the woes of a broken world flash before me with compelling music behind them. In my “financial low” (we will call it,) I’ve found myself in situations I’ve never been before, being forced to make decisions between “need” & “need more” or “necessary” & “can wait.” The truth of the matter is that because of the ways the Lord has blessed my life the only way that I will have to face those decisions is in the case of choosing to abandon monetary income for the sake of giving my life (my work) to Christ. The choice to face them. I don’t know if I can talk much more about it on such an impersonal level. I’m becoming uncomfortable with the feeling that I’m making moral statements to a very broad audience. The point is though that I’ve begun to recognize more clearly why it is that the Lord would ask me to do the seemingly unnecessary act of being another poor person in the world. (Beyond the simple issue of trust.)
There are things I do not buy, there are bills I do not pay because the money is not there. The matter at hand is that I live in a world where my needs are made up needs. I can’t pay for my car registration, the bills accruing interest, the toll fees, I can’t buy new guitar strings when they snap, I can’t go to the movies, can’t afford gasoline, mail with my name on it makes me want to vomit, I pay for the things that will keep me out of jail first and if there’s enough pay for the rest… By all technical terms I have put myself in a pretty precarious situation in life. But daily I’m reminded of the goal & I think on person after person that I see in those films and have seen in the world still so full of hope, or without hope, where need is not based on being able to pay some imaginary interest on a loan that was invented by man’s greed. Need is based on survival. I will never understand that need, never. I don’t feel like I can be an advocate of a people with nothing if I don’t ever comprehend in tangible, undeniable terms of how sustained I am, even in my own “need.” The closest I can come is doing something really kind of crazy, and in doing that put myself in the hands of others because I can’t afford myself. I also marvel at the feeling I get that says that maybe I’m supposed to experience what it is like to depend on the graciousness of others. I’ve always been in the position to give and to be uncomfortable with receiving. I remain uncomfortable with it but there are times when I have to set my pride aside in order to allow for God to provide for me through others. What I’m learning is that it takes serious humility to be in the position of receiving. It takes a big person to ask for help. It takes the submission of our pride to the sake of our needs. Those of us who have always been outside of the life where we are forced to ask others for things, we remain in that pride. I live in that pride. There are so many things I’m learning. It is so overwhelming.
I think it’s fair that you have the opportunity to disagree and I will (lovingly) verbally Judo-Chop anyone who wants to bring to me opposition to choices I’ve made. I’ve been training for a while now to defend, or recognize when not to bother defending, what I’ve spent this year wrestling with and confirming. My greatest achievement has been recognizing that it will not ever make complete sense to the world around me. At first I tried to store up confirmations that I wasn’t crazy. Eventually I began to see instead, that it is crazy. But I started realizing that John was a mad man and Jesus was homeless and my confirmation lies in our similarities. At this point I’m not vulnerable to any words about if it’s right or not. That doesn’t mean that after a good round I’m not beat up and worn out, but it does mean that no man can undo what the Lord has spent a year doing inside of me. Also, I want to humbly submit that I think we each have a calling of our own and I don’t in any way think that mine has anything to do with the format of life called to others.
[Here’s some images of faces of the poor I’ve seen in my travels that have impacted me. These are some of the faces that I carry with me.]
[Images from the very top: Woman in wheelchair made from a plastic lawn chair in Zambia; Little boy with one cataract in Kanchindu, Zambia; Women selling trinkets in the slums outside of Lima, Peru; Five year old Maria begging on a dirty pedestrian street in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Snake charmer Marrakech, Morocco; Shop owners son playing with my nose ring on the street in Cusco, Peru; Handicapped boy who visited the clinic in Kanchindu, Zambia; Rudolpho sitting on a deserted street in Buenos Aires, Argentina]