The Zach from Gold’s Gym Chronicles

I recently decided that I want to get in better shape. My wedding is right around the corner, and I don’t want my future kids to see pictures of good ole’ dad sporting some love handles on his big day. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily out of shape, but I usually prefer playing half-court basketball instead of full. Waking up early and hiking a mountain is fun, but knowing a post-hike brunch at Cracker Barrel awaits is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

I called a Gold’s Gym near my house and left a voicemail saying I wanted to join. About an hour later my phone rang.

“Hey buddy,” a voice on the other end of the line said with confidence, as if we’re actually buddies. “My name is Zach, and I’m from Gold’s Gym. Why don’t you come in and see me? I’ll get you set up with a membership.”

When I arrived a man with a ponytail led me to an office in the back and told me to wait. After a few minutes there was a soft knock on the door, and a man walked in, shook my hand, and introduced himself as Zach. Zach from Gold’s Gym.

“Glad you made it,” he said. “So what are your workout goals?”

“Well, I’d like to be fit I guess.”

“Tell me: what does fitness mean to you?”

“I just want to be healthy.”

“Perfect. What’s your current workout routine?”

“I don’t have one. That’s why I’m here.”

“Cort, you have come to the right place. You’re going to make friends here. This is a community. We are a community. We help each other reach our full potential. Does that sound good to you?”

Zach was friendly, and I liked him, but what he described sounded like a version of hell custom-tailored for Cort. I was looking for a treadmill, not a friend. The last thing I wanted was to be surrounded by middle-aged men in cutoff t-shirts committed to helping me pump out a few more reps before hitting the showers. I told Zach I needed to think about it.

The next day, at the urging of several friends, I visited Lifetime Fitness and discovered the difference between a gym and a sports club. Freshly washed towels were neatly folded and stacked high around every corner. The locker room had a sauna and a steam room. Instructors offered hot yoga classes at no extra charge. If Jesus designed his own workout facility, it would look like Lifetime Fitness.

I don’t remember exactly what happened next–perhaps one of the towel boys drugged me–but suddenly I was in Sam’s office giving him my credit card information.

Completely forgetting about Zach from Gold’s Gym, I joined the cult of Lifetime Fitness and became the most devoted disciple. I was downright evangelical about the place. I found ways to bring it up in every conversation. I got a massage and handed out my masseuse’s business card to friends. All was well.

And then my phone rang.

January 8: “Hey man, this is Zach from Gold’s Gym. Just wanted to see if you were ready to get started with that membership, man. Give me a call back. Have a good afternoon, bud!”

I felt a twinge of guilt. Oh well, I thought. I guess that’s that. But two weeks later my phone rang again.

January 21:  “Hey Cort! This is Zach from Gold’s Gym. Just calling to see if you made it back into town safely. Let me know when you want to get this membership up and running. Hopefully I’ll see you soon!”

Looking back, I should have had the courtesy to pick up the phone and say, “Hey Zach from Gold’s Gym. I’m sorry, but this isn’t working out. It’s not you, it’s me.” But I figured he would go ahead and cross me off the potential member list at this point.

And then this showed up in my email.

February 19:


The email went straight to my spam folder and I happened upon it by chance. I appreciated the personal touch–“almost two months!”–and that he signs his emails “Yours in Health”, but another gym had already won my affections.

Last week, while I was in Nicaragua, I received a text from an unknown number.

February 20:


This was a turning point for me in my relationship with Zach from Gold’s Gym. I knew that the only decent thing to do would be to break up with him. So I did.

February 25:


And so, with those last two words from Zach from Gold’s Gym, I think this season of my life may finally be over. I have nothing but respect for Zach, and I wish him the best as he hunts down other potential members. Farewell, Zach from Gold’s Gym. Thanks for the memories.


Yours in Health,




Call me crazy, but I assumed “it’s cool” marked the end of my relationship with Zach from Gold’s Gym. How wrong I was.

March 6: 

IMG_5850Okay, this seems fair. It’s clearly just a standard email Gold’s Gym sends out to potential members, and I guess I wasn’t taken off the list yet. So I hit unsubscribe and didn’t think twice about it.

But then later that day, as I was driving to Nashville, I received a text message from an unknown number. And here, ladies and gentleman, is the final conversation I will ever have with Zach from Gold’s Gym (I think).

IMG_5848There’s a good lesson to be learned here. If you’re in a relationship with someone but you want to break it off, just come right out and say it. Don’t dance around the truth. It might be painful at first, but that special someone deserves to know how you really feel.

Yours in Health, one last time,


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Nicholas Kristof the theologian

As a resident of Birmingham, lately it feels like every conversation I have eventually leads to the recent gay marriage ruling and subsequent legal showdown. Everyone has an opinion, usually a fierce one. Today New York Times columnist Nick Kristof put in his two cents.

Let me first say that I admire Kristof a great deal. His writing has inspired and challenged me. He’s one of the reasons 18-year-old me decided to major in journalism. I think he’s a crucial voice in shining light on injustices around the world. I even submitted essays for his annual win-a-trip contest. (Twice! although I never won. I didn’t deserve to win. Those essays were bad.)

With that being said, I was interested to see what Kristof had to say about the truly horrific murder of three Muslims in North Carolina yesterday, and the Alabama marriage rulings.

I think he raises some good points. Particularly here:

I don’t think Muslims should feel obliged to apologize for the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks. Nor do I think atheists need apologize for the killing of the three Muslims.

But it does seem useful for everyone to reflect on our capacity to “otherize” people of a different faith, race, nationality or sexuality — and to turn that other-ness into a threat. That’s what the Islamic State does to us. And sometimes that’s what we do, too.

This is something I’ve thought a lot about lately–my tendency to “otherize” people who don’t think or look like me. I do this all the time, usually without even realizing it, and it’s something I need to actively work against. My heart is darker than I’d like to admit.

What I wasn’t as crazy about was when Kristof decided to play theologian.

Here’s an example:

More broadly, one message of the New Testament is the value of focusing on one’s own mistakes rather than those of others. “You hypocrite,” Jesus says in Matthew 7:5. “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

And here:

It seems odd to me that so many conservative Christians are obsessed with homosexuality, which Jesus never mentions, yet seem unworried about issues Jesus did emphasize like poverty and suffering.

Few things are more frustrating than Christians who select certain verses and use them to justify their actions and/or beliefs. But that’s exactly what Kristof does here. He picks one or two verses, rips them out of context, and uses them to shape an entire Christian worldview/sexual ethic.

I’m all for a robust debate about the Bible, what it says, how Christians interpret it, and what role it should play in the 21st century, but I don’t think Kristof is the guy to do it. By “otherizing” this group of people he calls conservative Christians–which is not nearly as homogeneous as many people tend to think–he’s pandering to his readers and reinforcing stereotypes that are sometimes true, but not always.

Kristof is an influential voice, but today he isn’t moving the conversation forward in any meaningful way.

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Act on your brilliant ideas or someone else will and you’ll regret it until you die

Every once in a while, usually when you least expect it, a brilliant idea passes through your brain, and you know that life will never be same.

This happened to me in the winter of 2009. I was a senior in high school, and one night while I was cooking dinner I had an idea for a project that would guarantee me fame, fortune, and glory.

That is such a wild idea, I thought to myself, that I’m just going to store it in my mental idea vault and revisit it later. “Stay safe in there,” I said. “Your time will come.”

So what was my brilliant idea?

In August 2009 a film called Julie & Julia was released. It tells the true story of Julie Powell, a young writer who decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, blogging about her journey along the way. Powell’s blog was successful enough to earn her a book deal, and suddenly Amy Adams is playing her in a movie.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for gimmicks—particularly ones that involve ultimately pointless and lengthy challenges, like watching all 8 Harry Potter movies in one sitting or tweeting every single line from Lindsay Lohan’s The Parent Trap

My idea was simple: watch Julie & Julia every day for an entire year—365 consecutive viewings—and blog about my adventure. I was going to call it Julie & Julia & Cort (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but yolo).

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 12.51.41 PM

A blog about watching a movie based on a book about a blog about a cookbook. Like I said: brilliant.

I was going to make the blog humorous and poignant. Witty and thoughtful. I was going to infuse a silly project with humanity. I was going to learn new things about myself, new things about the world. I was going to share my wisdom with the masses.

Most importantly, I was going to find a way to meet Meryl Streep.

In 2009 I recognized the gravity of what I was stumbling into, and I knew I wasn’t ready. I was about to bike across America, graduate from high school, and start college; there was no room in my life for a project like this. So I let it simmer.

A couple of years passed, and as 2012 came to an end I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2013.

And I knew the time I had come. 2013 was going to be the year of Julie & Julia & Cort. One night I decided to tell my friend Andrew about it. Without missing a beat he said one sentence that effectively ruined my life.

“Good idea, but that’s been done already.”

A quick Google search confirmed my worst fears. Some guy had the same idea, but he did it first. I won’t even link to his blog because it fills me with such sorrow.

As I mourned the death of my dream, I learned a tough lesson. If you think your idea is unique, it’s probably not. So act quickly. Don’t wait any longer. Carpe diem, my friends. Someone else might be perfecting your brilliant idea right this very minute.

Let my story be a sobering reminder: if you don’t watch Julie & Julia 365 days in a row, someone else will. And you will live a life filled with nothing but regret.

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Begin Again

I love the first day of a new year. Nothing really changes, but we’re all allowed a do-over, and no one is going to give you a hard time about it. As I write this, everyone else in the house is still asleep. 2015 is only a couple of hours old. An entire year lies ahead of us. I love waking up early on January 1 because these morning hours feel like an in between time. A year has just ended and a new one is about to begin, but not for a few more hours really. Everything is quiet.

When I was a little kid I wanted to be: a fireman, an astronaut, a professional dog walker, a marine, a mime, a teacher, a detective, a garbage man, a pastor, a scuba diving instructor, a master carpenter, a guest on Oprah, a musician, a producer, a record label owner, a roadie and a world-famous chef.

I used to imagine what my life would look like at 20, 25, 30, and so on. I didn’t know what I would be doing, but I knew I would be successful. People would value my thoughts and call me to get my advice on important matters. I was going to have stories to tell. I used to look up what my heroes were doing at certain ages so I knew the kind of trajectory I should probably be on as well. This proved to be an unhealthy habit. Knowing that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote This Side of Paradise when he was 22 is inspiring when you’re 15. Not so much when you’re 23. Then it’s just depressing as hell.

2015 is my first full year of adulthood, whatever that means. I had so many expectations for where I would be at this point in my life. In some ways I’ve met those expectations, in other ways I haven’t. It’s so easy to look around at other people and only see the ways in which they’re succeeding and we aren’t. But that’s no way to live. So my resolution for 2015 is simple: quit the comparison game. Everyone has a story to live, and we run the risk of missing out on our own if we get too preoccupied with someone else’s. If I thought I had to write The Great American novel at 22 like F. Scott Fitzgerald, then I would drink myself to death by 25. This year is about enjoying where I am, focusing on the tasks before me, and dreaming about where I plan to go next.

It’s going to be a big year. There are a lot of changes coming up, and that’s exciting and terrifying. I’m starting a new job (more on that later). I’m getting married in July. My fiancée recently accepted a job that will have us living in France half the year (more on that later, too). My life looks nothing like I wanted it to look when I was younger. Thank God for that.

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“Unbroken” and the story that should have been told


First things first: this review includes spoilers—lots of them. If you’re one of the seven people on planet earth who hasn’t read Unbroken and doesn’t already know the story, then consider this your official spoiler alert.


Unbroken, inspired by Lauren Hillenbrand’s 2010 book by the same name, tells the true story of Louie Zamperini, a U.S. Olympic track star turned bombardier who joined the army during WWII and spent 47 days in a raft after his plane crashed in the Pacific, only to be captured by the Japanese and tortured as a POW for more than two years. It’s one of those stories that would never work as a piece of fiction because it’s just too darn unbelievable.

For a film with such rich source material (the book has spent nearly four years—FOUR YEARS!—on the New York Times best-seller list), Unbroken decidedly misses the mark. From a technical standpoint, it’s a fine film. Some seriously talented people worked on this flick. As a director, Angelina Jolie has a keen eye, and cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, The Shawshank Redemption) is one of the best in the business. As Louie Zamperini, Jack O’Connell carries the film with ease. The screenplay is credited to Joel and Ethan Cohen, along with the enormously talented William Nicholson (Gladiator, Les Miserables) and Richard LaGravenese (Water for Elephants, P.S. I Love You). All the right ingredients to make something special are in place, which is why it’s so disappointing to see Unbroken fall short.

It’s not a bad film, per se, it’s just an incomplete one. For two hours we see Zamperini experience unimaginable suffering—first while baking under the hot sun, stranded in a raft in the middle of the Pacific, and then from a sadistic Japanese commander (portrayed brilliantly and terrifyingly by Japanese pop star Miyavi) who beats the hell out of Zamperini every chance he gets. Facing horrific torture, Zamperini survives by sheer force of will. “If I can take it, I can make it,” a phrase borrowed from his brother, becomes his refrain.

And, as the film’s title suggests, he does indeed make it. The allies win the war and Zamperini returns to his family in America. That’s where the film ends. While his uncanny ability to endure suffering and never give up, regardless of the odds,  is awe-inspiring and impressive, the most compelling part of Zamperini’s story is what happens after he comes home from the concentration camp, and that’s the part the film all but leaves out.

After years of struggling with alcoholism and PTSD, Zamperini attends a Billy Graham crusade and becomes a Christian. With the help of his new-found faith, he forgives his captors and overcomes his inner demons,  even going so far as to visit Tokyo to meet and forgive his torturers face to face.

The most inspiring part of Zamperini’s story isn’t that he survived the unthinkable—it’s that he was able to turn such pure evil, such darkness, into light. By relegating this crucial part of the story to a few sentences on the screen at the end, the film becomes more about torture than healing. The larger story of forgiveness and redemption—the truly inspiring story—never gets told.

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The next chapter

Last weekend I asked a girl named Abby McAtee to marry me.

On November 13, we drove from Birmingham to Atlanta and flew to New York City under the guise of spending a weekend celebrating my 23rd birthday with my parents, who live in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The next day, November 14, with Starbucks firmly in hand, we boarded the Metro-North train traveling from New Canaan to Grand Central Station, and spent the morning in lower Manhattan. In the afternoon we got on the subway at Rector Street, transferred to the A line at Columbus Circle and took it all the way up to the 190th Street station. A family across from us on the subway spoke french, and Abby fell asleep on my shoulder.

We exited onto Fort Washington Avenue and walked north through Fort Tryon Park along the Hudson River. About 10 minutes from the station is The Cloisters,  an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that houses the museum’s religious and Medieval art. We spent an hour and a half exploring the old European chapels that had been shipped across the Atlantic and reassembled in New York City. We sat on a bench–exhausted from walking all day–and eavesdropped on a tour group, trying to decide if the guide was a Ph.D. art history student at Columbia, or just a volunteer.

Around 4 p.m., we started on the path back through the park. I found a secluded spot near a lamppost along the Hudson, and I asked Abby to be my wife.



Abby had a crush on me high school, but I was too self-absorbed to realize that the quiet bookworm I flirted with at church to boost my ego would one day be my wife. She was the friend I brought all my relationship problems to. Abby is a great listener and loves to give advice, which is to say she loves to fix people. It took me awhile, but eventually I noticed her.

It’s a classic story: Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Boy and girl start dating a month before boy leaves for college. Boy makes all sorts of promises. Boy goes to college and realizes he can’t keep those promises. Girl tries to make it work but ends up heartbroken.

We both moved on with our lives. Sort of. One summer, when we hadn’t talked for a year or so, I bumped into her at Covenant College during a church camp where we had both been counselors. We sat in the dining hall and she pulled all the books out of her backpack to show me what she was reading. I hadn’t talked to a girl about books in a long time.

When the dining hall closed we sat outside and navigated the delicate dance of not wanting to say too much or too little. After that conversation, Abby said she reached a point of closure, of healing. She walked away feeling better than before. I walked away realizing she still knew me better than anyone else.

The story of how we eventually got back together after 2 1/2 years apart is lengthy, and best told over a bottle of wine. And parts of that story are just for us to know. But if you ask, we’ll tell as much as we can.

We’ll tell you about the ways we hurt each other. We’ll tell you about forgiveness and healing. We’ll tell you about the slow, hard work that went into rebuilding trust. We’ll talk of redemption and grace. But most importantly, we’ll talk about Jesus, because our story is inseparable from the Gospel.

In July, Abby and I will marry each other, and the next chapter of our story will begin. In the mean time, we’ll be planning a wedding and dreaming of what’s next for us. Thanks for all the kind words and support. It means the world to us.

The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.

- Wendell Berry

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Creating space

Last weekend I dreamt that I was verified on Twitter. In my dream, I was sitting at a coffee shop reading when I received an email from Twitter telling me that I was selected for verification. I clicked “accept” and that beautiful little blue and white check mark appeared next to my username. Elation.

And then I woke up and thought Cort what is wrong with you. 

A few weeks ago I read Jake Knapp’s essay about his year with a distraction-free iPhone. He found himself spending too much time on his phone, so he disabled Safari, removed email, deleted a bunch of apps and was careful about what he decided to keep.

“When we invest our time and energy in technology — as creators or consumers — we should invest in products that belong in ‘The Future’ and not those that make our lives disappear faster than they already do,” writes Knapp. “Personally, my life’s already going by at the speed of light. But this past year, it felt just the tiniest bit slower.”

I’ve been keenly aware of the lack of space in my life recently. I work. I take classes. I have about 15 books on my desk vying for my attention. There are relationships to maintain, words to be written, tasks to be completed. Life is good, but full.

With so many good and necessary things taking up my time and energy, I want to be mindful of what else I’m allowing in. I want to remove as much clutter from my life as possible.

With Knapp’s essay in mind, I decided to try my own iPhone experiment. I look at my phone more than any other object; if my iPhone is cluttered, my life might feel a little more cluttered too.

I started deleting and prioritizing. If I hadn’t opened an app within the past few weeks, I trashed it. I moved all the apps I don’t use on a daily basis off the home screen. I deleted Facebook, Instagram and, yes, even Twitter.

Saying farewell to the Twitter app was particularly difficult. If my dream about being verified didn’t give it away, I’m quite fond of Twitter. I think it’s an absurdly powerful tool and a fantastic way to interact with people I never would normally. But having it on my phone is too addictive for me. I check it while I drive, while I’m hanging out with my girlfriend and while I’m having conversations.

I let it take up too much space in my life.

So I deleted it. I still use Twitter on my computer, but not having it on my phone–even for a couple of days–has allowed me to feel more present. I’m not thinking in 140 characters or less. It’s healthy to remember that not every precious thought that passes through my head is worth sharing with the masses.

I de-cluttered my iPhone and left only the essentials. And it feels great–like cleaning off a workspace before starting a project. Here’s what my home screen looks like now:


 I don’t instinctively pull out my phone just to see what’s going on in the world nearly as much. Most emails can wait until later. Those “must read” articles can be read later, too. At night I pick up a book before falling asleep instead of just staring at my screen.

If I don’t take time to intentionally create space in my life, I’ll have no room for the things I truly want.

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6 “non-Christian” films you should see instead of “Christian” films like Left Behind and God’s Not Dead

2014 has been dubbed the year of Christian movies. Unfortunately, Christian movies are, generally speaking, terrible.

Left Behind. God’s Not Dead. Heaven is for Real. The Song. Son of God. 

Just to name a few.

Most of these films have been critically panned. For example, check out this fantastic review from Christianity Today that destroys Left Behind.

If we believe in a creative God, a God who is an artist, A God who speaks worlds into existence, then Christians should have high standards for the art we create and consume. Don’t waste your money on bad art simply because it has the marketing term “Christian” in front of it. Demand more.

Here are 6 “non-Christian” films that explore the mystery and complexity of God, life, faith, death–and everything in between–with more nuance and honesty than most Christian films.

1) The Tree of Life

“Terrence Malick‘s new film is a form of prayer,” writes Roger Ebert. “It created within me a spiritual awareness, and made me more alert to the awe of existence.”  The Tree of Life is worth seeing for a lot of reasons, but this creation scene is particularly breathtaking.

And of course, the way of nature vs. grace.

2) The Grey

After a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a group of workers have to survive with little equipment while wolves hunt them. I didn’t have high hopes for this movie; I expected to see Liam Neeson as a gritty action hero. But The Grey ended up being a beautiful, sobering meditation on death and faith.

One scene in particular has stuck with me.

“Do something,” Neeson yells at God. “Come on. Prove it. Fuck faith. Earn it. Show me something real. I need it now, not later. Now. Show me and I’ll believe in you until the day I die. I swear. I’m calling on you.”

3) To The Wonder

Another film from Terrence Malick. Javier Bardem plays Father Quintana, a priest who is experiencing doubts. Here we see Father Quintana serving the poor and sick while he recites a variation of St. Patrick’s prayer. 

4) Changing Lanes

Two men get in a minor car wreck one morning and their lives spiral out of control.

In a crucial scene, Ben Affleck’s character talks to a priest about the meaning of life.

“Sometimes God likes to put two guys in a paper bag and just let ‘em rip.”

5) Signs

See, what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you?”

6) Magnolia

This is one of those rare films that genuinely altered something inside of me the first time I saw it. Magnolia tells the interconnected stories of a group of people in Los Angeles who are all searching for something. The synopsis on the DVD case says it well: Some will seek forgiveness, others escape.

A few performances in this film will leave you slack-jawed and in awe.

Maybe one day “Christian” films will reach this level of quality, but I’m not holding my breath. What other films thoughtfully and artistically explore big questions about God, faith, life, and death?



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Grace for the doubter


I think we’re too hard on Thomas—or “Doubting Thomas,” as you might know him. Surely you’ve heard the story: After the resurrection, when the disciples were proclaiming they had seen the risen Lord, Thomas said he wouldn’t believe unless he touched the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and the wound in His side. A week later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and tells him to feel the wounds.

My Lord and my God!

Thomas is forever characterized by his doubt. But we overlook the fact that none of the disciples actually believed what they were hearing until they laid eyes on Jesus. They all had to see first.

Another story about Thomas–this one from John 11. When Jesus hears about Lazarus’ death, He tells the disciples he wants to go see him. The disciples are scared and don’t want to go, but Jesus goes anyway. And Thomas–yes, “Doubting Thomas”– says Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.

I’ve been thinking about Thomas a lot lately. I, too, find myself walking through seasons of doubt. I don’t doubt the central mystery of the Gospel–Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again–but sometimes I wonder if we’ve missed something along the way.

I’ve written about the feeling of absence before. When Christ seems hidden from plain view, when he remains silent for a time. I think about Thomas, and I wonder what it must have felt like when the risen Lord revealed himself to the 11 disciples, but for some reason Thomas had to wait one more week. When will it be my turn to see God? 

I find comfort in knowing there’s grace for the doubter, for the one who is seeking but has not yet found all the answers. In fact, I think we should be wary of anyone who claims to have all the questions figured out. On the other hand, I also want to be careful not to take this idea of searching too far and talk my way out of deciding what I believe. The goal of searching is to find, not to continue searching forever. When I hear a person confidently declare where he or she stands on a theological issue–whether it’s baptism or communion or whatever–I tend to assume they haven’t wrestled like I have. They haven’t really thought this one through yet; if they had, they wouldn’t speak so surely. They don’t feel the tension like I do. 

It’s important to remember that they’ve probably gone through seasons of doubt, too. Maybe they’ve searched and wrestled with this issue, and this is where they landed.

Derek Rishmawy has some nice thoughts on this:

When you go seeking for a spouse, the point is to find one, right? Now, once you find one, you’re not supposed to keep searching are you? That’s not to say you’re not still learning, or exploring–but it’s of a different character now. Before I was looking for a land to settle in, but now I’m exploring the land I have. Before I was searching to find a wife. Now I’m “exploring” my wife, looking to grow and learn in the context of an already settled relationship. This is no less stimulating, adventurous, or somehow closed-minded–it’s just the way relationships work. Depth and love are not the result of constant foundation-testing and tinkering, but in building once those things have been tinkered, tested, and settled on.

While doubt is a reality of this journey, I don’t want it to define my journey. I don’t want to search forever. I want to land somewhere.

Yesterday  I felt the urge to approach the Lord’s Table and experience the way  Christ is uniquely and mysteriously revealed through Communion. I looked online and found an Episcopal church close to my house. This morning, before going to the Presbyterian church I attend, I took part in the Holy Eucharist Rite II. I was reminded that we’re all part of one body. The Spirit isn’t confined to a single denomination. And, in the midst of my searching, I can approach the Table with confidence, knowing that Christ is revealing Himself to me, even if I don’t quite understand the particulars of what that means right now. I believe; help my unbelief. 

The name of the Episcopal church next to my house?

St. Thomas.

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In which I (sort of reluctantly) start writing about faith, again

I haven’t written about faith in a long time. There are a million reasons why, some more legitimate than others. I was job searching last spring, and I didn’t want a potential employer to think I was one of those happy-clappy Christians who makes everyone pray before the meal at a restaurant. I wanted to distance myself from stereotypes. I felt myself being sucked into the Christian blogosphere, and I wanted out. Thinking that I always needed to share my opinion when an evangelical did something stupid left me feeling exhausted. I didn’t want to add to the echo chamber. I didn’t want to create noise.

But there’s more.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when it felt like God left, but I think it happened sometime in the winter. One day He went silent. And I kept it to myself. The absence of God isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It’s hard to explain to people that sometimes the promises found in Scripture feel more like taunts. When I was younger I heard someone say, “If you feel far away from God, who do you think moved?”

I don’t think the answer to that question is always simple. So I stopped writing.

I spent this past weekend on a wilderness retreat with 12 recent college graduates. Each person was given at least 30 minutes to share his or her story. I thought about how I would tell my story, how I could make it look pretty and inspiring. How I could add in the right amount of drama to make it compelling, to make me seem a bit more edgy or cultured.

But then I remembered what someone told me a few years ago: The people you care about deserve honesty from you.

I want to hear your story–all the messy parts, your lowest lows and the moments you felt triumphant, the times when you were the person you never want to be again–but I don’t want you to hear mine. Not the honest version at least. I’ll go to tremendous lengths to make sure you only know the story I want you to know. The story I can control.

You’ll probably see more thoughts about faith on here. My faith influences my writing and my writing influences my faith. They inform and shape each other. There’s no getting around that. If you visit this space, then you deserve honesty from me.

I’ve been thinking about how I can avoid being another loud, unnecessary voice bouncing around the echo chamber. Something I’ve always appreciated is the way I feel at home in different contexts. I love contradictions. One of my best friends is the definition of a sharp, put-together businessman, and the other is a folk musician who seems to never be wearing shoes and looks like Jesus Christ himself. I was born in the North, but I’ve found a way to make the South home. I believe in the ordination of women, but I work at a PCA church. In college, I often woke up early to attend an Anglican service alone before going to a Presbyterian church with my pals. I put hymns and Kanye on the same playlist. What I see is an opportunity to be a bridge, of sorts. I’m still not sure what that looks like, but it’s what I hope to do.

I’ll leave you with this:

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?” – Rumi

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