Archive for January, 2012

31
Jan
12

in the middle

It’s 2:22 in the morning, and our 12 day old son Marcus has decided that Daddy doesn’t need much sleep this night. Maybe he’s right. I have a hard time sleeping anyway. Lots of thoughts about my place in this world seem to be going in circles. My wife just warned me to not go in through the door called ‘despair’ that we both know is in this room of thoughts and questions. She knows and I know what’s behind that door. I have often walked through that door when I’ve wrestled with questions of belonging as I do this early morning. It’s not a good place to go to. There is nothing to gain behind that door. Or behind the door next to it titled ‘hopelessness’ for that matter.

So instead I choose to listen to my heart and the questions I find there. Earlier tonight I found myself doing a round of Facebook-stalking of friends, acquaintances, and random people who don’t have a very high security level on their profiles. Don’t judge me. You do it too. And I left that tour feeling rather lonely. Without a group to belong to. I used to wear that as a badge of honor that I didn’t belong to a group. That was part of being young and independent minded. I loved playing the devil’s advocate no matter what people were talking about. And I loved being seen as ‘unique’. Now, I feel more unique and different than ever, but it’s not something I’m longing for. Big parts of me wish I belonged with other people in some kind of group. I wish I could associate myself with any sort of group and say that I firmly agree with everything they stand for. I can’t, however. I’ve written about it previously that when it comes to theology and the things of life with Jesus, I’m most definitely not able to find a group or even a person to fully associate myself with. Sometimes people ask me for my theological point of view on this or that, and I rarely know what to say. It’s not that I’m more wishy-washy than I was 15 years ago. It’s not that I’ve lost my cutting edge since I turned 35 a few days ago and officially entered the fairly un-sexy group called ‘people in their mid-thirties’. I feel passion like never before inside of me. I see Jesus setting me more and more on fire for truth. But I can’t seem to find a group to associate myself with. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle somewhere.Too liberal for the conservatives. Too conservative for the liberals. Not hip enough for the trendy. Way trendy for the hicks.

Having lived in three different countries, England, Ukraine and the United States, these past 8 years, and having spent time in more than 40 other countries doesn’t make the pursuit of finding a place to belong easier. I’ve experienced that strongly these last few weeks since our beautiful son (I promise to write more about him later on!) was born. I love that I truly, without it being an empty cliché, know people all over the world. I love that people from more than 20 nations were celebrating Marcus’ birth with my wife and I on Facebook and through emails. But the reality of having friends all over the world. The reality of being married to a person from a different country than my own. The reality of constant traveling and experiences that most people will never be able to understand. All of those realities are part of me feeling stuck in my own little world. I love that I’m a world citizen. I love that my perspective is global. I love all of that, but it also makes life lonely at times. Even though they wish they could be here with us, we didn’t have friends from Denmark, Ukraine, Hungary, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sweden, Germany come to visit us and celebrate our son’s birth. It just didn’t happen. So feelings of loneliness creep in. Feelings of belonging anywhere and not belonging anywhere. It’s part of God’s gifts to me that I’ve never been a stranger in any of the many countries I’ve had the privilege of visiting. I love that. I love how comfortable I feel all over the world. But that’s also part of what makes me harder to relate to.

I’m in the middle. I don’t know how to associate myself with a group of any kind. I admire people who can do it. I honestly do. The types who ‘like’ lots of pages on Facebook and feel connected to other people who do the same in cyber space or in real life. I don’t ‘like’ many groups. I just don’t. I don’t even know what to do with myself in grace circles these days. I see things differently from other people. And again I see that I used to be proud of that fact. Now, I don’t have to be different anymore. I wouldn’t mind agreeing with lots of people about lots of things. I just don’t. I find myself in the middle. In the middle of nowhere.

I’m glad that I’ve found Christ in the middle of nowhere. He is fairly unique too. And he’s been crazy enough to create me the way I’m created and invite me on these different journeys that have helped shape who I am and what I believe. He likes me. Just the way I am. He will always like me, even if I never find a group to belong to. Even if I never start sentences with “we believe…..or we think…” as opposed to “I believe…I think….”.

Some people will read this and see me as just another post-modern fool trying to be different. And 10 years ago I would have agreed (secretly, of course!) with that verdict. But not today. I find less and less pleasure and pride in being different. I just am different, and that’s okay. It remains a dream for me to someday be in some kind of community where true transparency and honesty rules and where I can have a group of people where I can truly share heart aches, pains, questions, concerns, joy and laughter. Until then I’m okay in the middle. With Christ.

Blessings, Torben – who loves being a Daddy, but wonders what my son will think when he reads this in 20 years from now…

03
Jan
12

Out of self-rejection – new year’s thoughts

A new year is upon us, and I thought it was time to sit and jot down some thoughts about what’s been going on, what is going on, and what I hope will happen in 2012.

To start with the latter first, maybe I should explain the title of this blog entry a bit. My dream for 2012 is to write a book! I want to write a book about how Jesus sets us free from self-rejection to live as people who experience true freedom. I have most of the book in my head. I have lots of thoughts of chapters about brokenness, suffering, self-embrace, etc. I hope I’ll be able to sit down and get it down on paper. I’m terribly nervous about this project. Who on earth would want to read a book that I write? Does that even matter? Is there really a need for a book about these realities? Won’t it just drown with all the other books being published every day? Do I have what it takes to write it? Lots of questions, and I’m okay just letting the questions be there. That’s part of self-acceptance too. To be okay with doubt and fear. Maybe, just maybe, these realities aren’t the opposite of faith. Maybe I can embrace myself in my doubt and fear. Because I know that Jesus does. Anyway, I’m excited about this dream. I have several books I want to write. And I somehow feel released to pursue the first one this year.

My beautiful wife Jeannette is 38 weeks pregnant so at any point our baby will join us and revolutionize our world. I have loved seeing the baby grow inside of Jeannette. I have loved experiencing the gentle journey out of fear and dread into hope and excitement that Jesus has had both Jeannette and I on. I have loved feeling accepted and received at all stages of this journey. I have loved watching Jeannette fall in love with the baby in a way that I can’t even begin to imagine or express. The link of love between my wife and our baby is already unbelievable. I am excited to hold our little miracle in my arms. I’m scared and nervous when I think about so many aspects of parenting. In particular the financial side of things scare me. We live on financial support from friends and family members who support the ministry Jesus is doing through us. How will we survive? I don’t know. But I cling faithfully to the promise Jesus has given me that “he will pay the postage”. We are a letter from Jesus about life, freedom and self-acceptance, and that letter won’t stop being read just because we have a baby. The letter might get a different audience. The letter might change some of its content. But the sender of the letter, Jesus, is the same. And he has promised that he will continue to take care of us. I rest in that as a father to be. I can’t wait to be a father. I am excited about the relationship with our baby. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. And we will be happy either way. We are just excited to be able to invite a new, beautiful person into our family. We are excited to love, live and learn together all three of us. I know Jesus has much he will teach me through this baby. I know I will become a different person and more authentically the Torben I was created to be through this child. I can’t wait.

2011 started out in darkness. We were mourning the loss of our first baby who was lost to us in a long, drawn out nightmare of a miscarriage in the last months of 2010. Tears flowed freely. Darkness surrounded us. And we journeyed with Jesus through that valley of the shadow of death. I didn’t like it. I hated it. Pain was real. Hopelessness was tempting. And yet, I always knew that Jesus knew what he was doing. I didn’t agree with his ways in the midst of the pain and struggles. I still don’t think it was the best way. And that’s okay too. Jesus is, thankfully, very untroubled by my lack of agreement with his plans.

What will happen this year? I have little to no clue. And that’s okay. I am excited to continue my personal journey with Jesus. I’m a different person January 2012 than I was January 2011. There is more fruit in my life. There is more freedom. There is more real honesty. Not the middle-finger-to-the-world-attitude to everybody that passes as honesty today. Not cynicism that I thought for years was real honesty. But real honesty and transparency taught to me by Christ himself. He has overwhelmed me with his acceptance in the midst of my mess. Even in the midst of my sin. He has laughed with me when I’ve screwed up. He has smiled when I’ve lied. This sounds wrong to religious ears. This will be covered more in my book 🙂 But this is, also, how Jesus is! Sin is off the table between Jesus and me. He will never bring sins up against me, and I don’t have to either. I am truly free. I have loved seeing how mercy continues to overtake my life. How the mercy and compassion of Christ is flowing more and more freely through me. Some interpret it as weakness. I know it’s strength. I have loved experiencing more in 2011 than ever before that being a person of mercy and compassion doesn’t take anything away from the passion, strength, directness, and plain old cutting-through-the-crap that Jesus has also given me as parts of my character. Jesus was 100% authentically himself both when he touched the sick, played with the children AND when he attacked people for being sons of Satan and when he cleared out the temple with a home-made whip. There is no separation. It’s all authentic. And I’ve been allowed to see more of that in my own life. And I have fun with it! I have more fun being myself!

Thus I embark on a new leg of the journey. It’s called 2012. I don’t know what will happen. Will there be more smiles than tears this year? I hope so. But I don’t know. And I choose to rest in that Jesus knows exactly what he is doing in and through me.

Happy New Year!

Love, Torben




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