#mylife

 

i don’t do the whole twitter thing; to be fair, i do indeed have a twitter account, but only because i read somewhere that “people my age” are supposed to, and when looking for a job, it is suspicious to be completely absent from the social media scene. i literally sat on the floor in our house and created a linked in, twitter, and facebook page that night; years of my wife and friends trying to convince me meant nothing, but being told i was being profiled against when seeking employment was reason enough. that’s not to say i don’t use hashtags; you know, #, the thing we used to call the pound sign or number sign. i have a blog where i write and post pictures and whatnot. well again, one day i was reading about how to increase your readers for your blog, and it mentioned the importance of proper hashtagging, so since then i try and make one or two hashtags for every post. i know, it’s a pathetic trend really that i tend to only do things if i read it somewhere; but that’s not why we’re here. we’re not going to talk about my insane fascination with the written word; we’re going to talk about #mylife. eventually. i never cut to the chase.

hashtags are a curious part of internet life. they really came on the scene because of the influence twitter has had on the digital world, evolving over the past 6 years or so into the official way to find out anything about everything. just do a quick search on the internet, type in the thing you wanna know about, leave out the spaces, and put a # in front, and see what you get. sure, there is a lot of information that this will miss, namely anything at all official, academic, older than 2009, in print only, or otherwise “adult” in nature, but then, you shouldn’t be using the internet for the pursuit of “factual knowledge” without knowing these things are hard to come by in any world, virtual or otherwise. this ease of access leads people to start causes, like #helpmegrowmyhairreallylong or #wannagooutforadate. this has also led to businesses trying to exploit this for marketing like #ilovehamburgers or #eatatjoes but to no avail; funnily enough, most businesses that start hashtag campaigns soon find their hashtag is inundated with connections to complaints and disgust. pretty much, for corporate america anyways, hashtags are only a means of observation, not direction. a recent attempt by the NYPD is sign enough; check out #myNYPD and see how an attempt at a positive presence in the media turned into an outpouring of disgust and anger.

ok, i promise i have a point. sometimes when writing i forget it, and others i didn’t actually have one when i started, hence my rambling; but whatever the case, by the end of my writing, there is a point to be found. somewhere. eventually.

my life is complicated. to be fair, this is true for everyone, and for quite a number of people out there, my life isn’t complicated at all by comparison. one of the more convoluted properties of being an adult is keeping up with all the changes. kids are always growing, bills coming and going, cars having issues, the news just updated, job searches, groceries, random parties and get togethers with friends and family, don’t forget homework, did you finish that project… one of the real difficulties is just in trying to keep everything straight. in the hashtag world, you can set up a feed similar to a news channel. instead of tuning into CNN every day to know what is happening around the world, you could just check in with #Philippines and be up to date on what is going on in the pacific asian country with little to no difficulty. ok, get ready. i’m finally going to make my point here! i need a hashtag for my life, a way to be up to date at all times with my own life; a way to know where i’m at and what i’m doing, what’s important and what’s a waste, who i am and who i should be. sure, there are technology aids that can do some of this for me, but that’s not what i’m talking about. the Bible is my daily news feed, tuned into #k.a.w.-richée; or maybe, even more accurately, it is tuned in to #God with a k.a.w.-richée filter. either way, it is a concrete, universal means by which i can know what is really going on in my life. because that’s what hashtagging really is all about, usable information at an up to date speed. and there’s nothing in life more usable, more worthwhile, more relevant and to date than the Word God has for His people, His creation, His world. His message is timeless, His advice always sound, His updates are so current, their downright prescient!

there are evenings when i sit on the couch, scrolling through headlines as my wife and i talk about our days. i am catching up on life, on the world, on what has, is, and will be happening; many mornings even begin with this same ritual. my days are filled with endless perusing, digging, looking at what is going on. well, to be fair, not every day. the really good days are the days i’m too busy to “check in,” too busy to see what’s going on, as those are often times days spent not only being present in the moment with my wife and kids, but also being conscious in my walk in Christ, commutes listening to sermons, or better still, family car rides with all of us singing His praises. it is at these moments when i am tuned in to #God that complications fall away, and a thorough knowledge settles in; i know what’s trending, i know what’s going on. i need this. maybe you don’t get overwhelmed with a desire for knowledge, or the desire for at least an allusion of security in a world with so many unknowns, but i do. that’s why i need to hashtag my life; that’s why i need to check in all the time to see just what’s trending in the Word of God.

there are days in my life when my marriage feels like a war of attrition, the while day spent with a back and forth potty party. “woe is me!” “no, woe us me!” back and forth until we eventually seek slumber, lying next to each other, but not with one another. sometimes entire days feel like marriage is a heated armistice, guns drawn and aimed true until neither side can see in the darkness all around. some days my marriage drags on, an endless journey through conflict.

my fan club

“mr. kamarr i have a loose tooth.”
“well i’m happy to hear your tooth will finally be escaping from your face.”
“but mr. kamarr, it hurts.”
“well tell your dad and maybe he’ll pull it out for you; dad’s are good at that sort of thing.”
“but i don’t ever see my dad.”
“well have your grandpa, or uncle, or older brother, or cousin- some man you can trust do it.”
“we don’t have any men in our lives.”
“you mean there are no men in your life you can trust and look up to? not even at church?”
“why do you think we come here everyday.”
i’m tired of being a medical doctor working as the assistant to a middle school nurse, running around like i’m crazy to barely make enough money to cover our bills and a little fun every so often. i want a career so badly, a job that i can just focus on and turn into a part of the greater narrative of my life as i grow in Christ and raise a family. i pray for this constantly, a new job, a new place to live, some sort of change that takes me from where i am to a place somewhat more like where i would much rather be. but then i have conversations like the one above, and i’m left shaking my head, wishing with every fiber of my being that i wasn’t saying the prayer that i actually am, the prayer that says: “thank You God for having me here, and putting me where i am truly needed.” the aforementioned conversation took place today during lunch time as 4 girls ranging from 10-13 in age looked over my shoulder at some of the pictures from what my family did this summer. every since i first started working at this school i have had a “fan club” of girls, and some boys too, who stop by 4 days a week (“no visitors on Fridays; i’m too busy”) during their lunch break to just talk, watch me work, bug me. my first year i felt like maybe it was more of a “girls with crushes” thing, but as the years rolled by, it became increasingly obvious that this was not the case; these girls weren’t drawn to me because they found me attractive, they were drawn to me because there was a blank space in their life they needed filled. some of the girls would talk to me because i reminded them of their father but cooler, saying the same things but with a handlebar mustache so it was more palatable; some of the ladies hated the men in their life, and enjoyed knowing a man they could respect and be respected by. but as the girls so plainly stated today, some of them come to my office because i am the only male figure in their life worth coming to. how sad is that? how sad is it that there are little girls, future mothers and wives, who are so desperate for a worthwhile relationship with a man that they will spend what little free time they have huddled in a health office with a guy they barely know? i told the girls that this fact made me sad, that it didn’t ruin my day or anything, but that i was so sorry to hear that they had no other men in their life. they had to leave, and i had to get some work done, but they will be back tomorrow, to bug me again, and i will certainly let them.
there are forces in the world that will have you believe that kids don’t need two parents in the home, or a mom and a dad, but if you asked the kids, not the jaded adults pretending that they are tougher than they really are, less scarred from traumas and memories than they really are, if you asked the kids they would freely acknowledge what having a mom and a dad means to them. like the young man who came by every day when his dad was stationed in Iraq, and still comes now because i’m like his “school uncle” or something, kids need a man in their life, not just somewhere in the universe; no matter how loving and caring a man he is, his physical presence is irreplaceable and totally necessary. there is so much i want to do in this life, so many things i want for myself and for my family, but at moments like these i must admit that the work God is using me for seems infinitely greater than the work i dream of doing. maybe these ladies will grow to walk the streets sleeping with men for money; maybe they will marry the first boy who says “i love you;” maybe they get knocked up the year after they leave here or end up on the streets, or on drugs; maybe they go to college and invent some new technology or eventually become president of the United States. whatever they end up doing with their lives, if even just one of them grows up to know what a man is supposed to be because of a few minutes a day, four days a weak spent bugging me in my office, then all these years of struggle and ego crushing failure have been more than worth it.

"The future of this nation depends on the Christian training of our youth."

George Washington

"the demand is for a family likeness: God’s son (the nation in the Old Testament, Exod. 4:22; the individual Christian in the New Testament, Roma. 8:14) must stive, just because he is God’s son, to be like his Father. this is what the call to holiness means; and the noun (in the New Testament, hagiasmos, sometimes redered “sanctification” I the English versions) denotes the state of being dissociated from the practice of sin and devoted to the life of Godlikeness."

J.I. Packer, “18 Words”, on Holiness and Sanctification
before reading this, never knew that holy and sanctify were actually the same word in the original Hebrew and Greek languages. at one point he jokes that “holify” and “sanct” are such ugly sounding words that it makes since to have separate words for the noun and verb forms; either way, it is driving home the importance of the pursuit of holiness in the life of the saint, as the process of “holifying” unfolds in the life of the believer.

"God draws us into fellowship with Himself by different routes; it is a mistake to expect one man’s journey into faith to be a carbon copy of another’s. The demand that conversion experiences correspond only stirs up misplaced and distracting anxieties. We are all different people with different starting points, and God deals with us as we are where He finds us. Richard Baxter said, ‘God breaketh not all men’s hearts alike.’ But at one point all the roads to Christ converge: at the point of realizing that one is out of step and out of fellowship with God, and has no hope but in the reconciliation that Christ Himself brings. Different people express this in different terms, not all biblically adequate, but what is expressed- the sense of need for a new relationship with God, the exclusive trust in Christ to bring it about, the resting of all hope henceforth on Him, the risen Lord- is the same thing everywhere. Real Christianity- the life of knowing God, as distinct from the life of being prepared for knowing God- starts here, in what Paul calls the receiving of reconciliation; here, and nowhere else."

J. I. Packer in “18 Words” speaking on the importance of the concept of reconciliation in the Gospel message

a formula to live by

a formula to live by

we all get hurt in this life. one could easily argue this to be the defining proof of life itself; only that which is living can be hurt. but not all pain is equal. even the toughest, manliest dude out there must admit that emotional pain hurts far more than physical. there’s something about the scars of the heart that seems to never decrease in its intensity , while mere “flesh wounds” seem to almost fade from existence in due time. i have known my fair share of both kinds of pain. despite my diminutive build, i am pretty durable. the thing though, is that i am largely immune to physical pain, but overly sensitive at time to emotional pain. i joking recount the time i got my wisdom teeth pulled with no pain killer because i literally thought  it would take longer to have to wait for the numbing to take effect, so i just endured. but then there was the one time in college my mom said something, i don’t even know what it was anymore, and i almost killed myself. my wife and i got into it a little this morning. she was talking about some friends of ours being in town and wanting to get together, but i reminded her that it would be a little difficult for me. he and i had agreed that whichever of us managed to get a residency first would help the other. you know, some real life Genesis 40 stuff. well it’s been a few years, and i get the feeling that he is too happy where he is to risk self or spend time trying to help me. it hurts. my wife says i need to not be mad about it; that i need to forgive and move on. but i have. forgiveness does not mean you feel any less betrayed. forgiveness does not mean that it isn’t still awkward when you think about the other person and what place they hold in your heart. like the cousin i can’t see because of his betrayal to the family, this friend too is someone i have long ago forgiven, long since moved on from my hurt and pain, but the scars still rub against my shirt when i get dressed in the morning, the skin is still tight when the weather grows cold.

i alluded to a formula in the title, so here it is:

                       

see, an enemy can cause you pain; but man the amount a friend can inflict is so very much more. let’s look at it in its entirety and try and see what i mean. the closer you are to someone, the more vulnerable you become. sure, you can shoot me from a distance and kill me, but you have to be right up on me to stab me in the back. and especially for someone like me, who maintains layer upon layer of walls between myself and those i interact with, you must be a real friend for me to open myself completely. a close friend lives in your heart, so there’s no effort needed for them to harm it. a close friend is always welcome in your home, so it is not a surprise they can also burn it down. but, and this is important, this is diminished by the openness of your heart. the more open you are, the closer people tend to be, the less painful betrayal of a friend. i imagine that the reason i am so closed off and guarded with my relationships is because i am so weak; then again, it could also be that i am so emotionally fragile because i am not exposed. the point is still the same. those who are open and loving are harder to hurt with betrayal, so the fact that you are close to them is less impactful than in someone who is guarded and stand-offish. last is time. this element is of great importance, and that is why it multiplies the potential for harm. the longer you know someone, the closer you become, but also the more vulnerabilities they have access to. they watched as you grew and changed in various scenarios. they saw old weakness go, and new ones come. this proximity could even give them the ability to predict future vulnerabilities you do not yet have. even the toughest of hearts can be laid low by a long-time friend; time is “of the essence” they say, but in truth, time is really the essence. time grants power.

my friend i talked about has all the makings of a real source of pain. i knew him about 6 years before the pain started. in that time i watched him grow, and he watched me too. he watched me go from a bachelor, to a husband, to a father, to a doctor, to a man of conviction, to a man of sorrows, to a man looking for hope. i have had friends longer than him, but the nature of our relationship was one were for most of the major events of my adult life, he was in a unique position of confidant. i truly loved him, and i still love him and his family. so when his head was raised up to a position of power, and i was left in the dungeon, i had no doubt in my mind that he would do the same as i would, he would advocate for me, he would vouch for me, he would stand up for his friend and fight to the death even. but he did not. it has been years, and still, he has not. “how do you know, kamarr?” because we are friends; i know him, and he knows me, and if he had given it his all, i would know it.

this equation isn’t one you should live by, it’s one you already do. and truth be told, i would do it all again, and so would you. the pain of a friend does not render pointless the joy of friendship. if anything, it just makes you want friends all the more. friends are worth the pain. friends are worth the vulnerability, the danger. in fact, sometimes it is the pain that lets you know a friend is a friend. i recall a time not long ago when a man said some really mean things to me. it hurt bad; real bad. now, not only do we talk, but i had to realize this morning that he may in fact be one of my closer friends. we don’t talk much, and we don’t see eye to eye on many things, but it’s been a long time since someone hurt me like he did, a long time since someone was able to. i realized that i actually valued his friendship greatly, the call he randomly gave me last week to encourage me and lift me up, his smiling face even when he takes you on. reminds me of another friend of mine i haven’t seen or spoken to in years, a friend who could show up right now and take every penny i have if he needed it. because a good friend causes the most pain, and when you find yourself writhing in pain from a poisoned dagger to the heart, you have to realize only a friend could do that; only a friend.  

"eternity is not as long as it sounds. i know, that may seem like i’m making things up or something, but i’m not. see, from your point of view, it seems like an interminable period of time, stretching from beyond one horizon to beyond the next; but this is wrong. eternity is not a measurement of time, at least no more than light a measure of darkness, or water a measure of dryness. see, it is time that is the aberration here, for time is in fact the absence of that which makes an object truly permanent and thereby concrete; time is a measurement of the side effects of the absence of permanence. life was not always this way, though. there used to be no time. sure, days came and went, beginnings were encountered and endings naturally considered to lie in store for some, but time was not then as it is now. then time was a mere formality for addressing the created, because time was still thoroughly acquainted with the eternal. but soon, (i think that’s the right term for when something has yet to happen though it can be seen; soon) you will all be translated into your native form, a form both with beginning and without end. like me. one of the more beautiful things about this, as i am sure you will come to appreciate as well, is how one can step outside of the when to better appreciate the now, but also step into the now to more fully appreciate the always. i would never feign to know the mind of God, but i can’t help but feel part of His beautiful plan was indeed to allow His servants this pleasure in serving Him. while singing praises forever is beyond compare, the ability to at times appreciate what it is we praise Him for is still a treat and a joy. i’m going to let you in on a little secret: this is why Lucifer is so ornery, so miserable, and so very confused; he’s trapped in the now. sure, he can still stop by Paradise for a moment or two, but the music is so tough for him to stomach, he never stays too long. and when he leaves, there’s no choice of when to go, or where even for that matter. he must go back where he came from and when he came from. imagine being a full grown adult who was renowned as the most eloquent speaker, forced to speak in monosyllabic tones and broken phrases the rest of your life. you know what you’re missing, and you would never venture to say that true speech was something amazing and what drivel you spoke now the nature of normalcy. no, and the same with time. the devil feels time now, and every second that passes is in fact merely the sensation of lacking in eternality. like a ghost limb that aches long after amputation, so dose creation now groan for an eternal state as it ages. well, i will see you soon, once you’ve been translated, that is. for now, i must get back to reality. take care!"

a speech from a yet unnamed character in my novel I have been working