Politically Enraged

Posted in Uncategorized on September 18, 2014 by Phil Martin

Politically Enraged

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Sept. 18, 2014

I stopped going to the first church I began visiting in August. My issue is that the church appeared to be too politically engaged. Personally, I am politically enraged with any church that believes the way you vote determines how Christ-like you are.

I grew offended when the lead pastor began knocking on President Obama.

On my fourth visit, the pastor requested the congregation to pray for President Obama because the pastor didn’t “believe he is a Christian.” Interesting. Now praying for leaders and those in authority over us is biblical (Read I Timothy 2:2). However, I felt critical that the pastor made it a point to voice his thoughts on Mr. President’s salvation. The lead pastor, myself, and no one in the church knows whether Mr. Obama for certain is a Christian or not. His salvation is between himself and God, not for any other man, who does not know him, to merely speculate because he is different than many past presidents.

On my final visit to this particular church, the lead pastor passively attacked President Obama once more. The lead pastor said that Mr. President hasn’t done any thing to fight for religious freedom in America. First, America was not founded on Christian values or to preserve religious freedom for Christians. The Bill of Rights of the United States legislates religious freedom for Americans to practice any religion they please or to have the freedom not to practice religion without grievances from the government. Secondly, I was the utmost appalled by the lead pastor’s ignorance because of other more important issues. Let’s see: Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, from Amsterdam to Russia to the great Far East, where women and children are sold and enslaved. There’s the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Millions of other native Africans battle HIV / AIDs and hunger annually. Millions of Americans suffer from homelessness and joblessness. Those are just a few major issues each of us could spare more time praying that God would make better of. Surely, the lead pastor would request for prayer on such greater worldly issues than worrying over whether President Obama is leading biblically or not. Surely. Surely not.

Oh, but the lead pastor’s ignorance towards the Black Church and his negative comments on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the deal breaker for me. For context, the lead pastor taught about how Christians should abide by laws (as Apostle Paul encourages us to do in Romans chapter 13) but to not abide by laws that are unlawful against the Christian code of ethics. The lead pastor intended to use Jim Crow laws (laws that promoted racism and discrimination in the 1960s Southern U.S.) as an example of unlawful laws.

Instead of explaining this point, the lead pastor read a letter written by Dr. King. King wrote the letter to other pastors while he was held in a Birmingham, Alabama, jail. Before the lead pastor read the letter, he made two very off comments.

First, he said he didn’t agree with Dr. King on many issues, except the letter. Interesting. I wonder what the pastor’s beef with Dr. King is. Most people, of all races I have seen, seem to appreciate, or least tolerate, Dr. King’s efforts of pushing for the end of racial discrimination and promoting diversity.

The second comment the lead pastor made was directed towards black churches. The pastor said he felt the Black Church needed a lot of help today. He then said, “Thank God for the black pastors that are left remain standing.” Of all the off comments the lead pastor made, this was the most egregious and threatening to me. His feelings of the church seemed to insinuate that the lead pastor, and many others who think like him, feel black churches are corrupt, ignorant, and straddling down the wrong path. If my projections of the pastor’s feelings are right, the pastor is ignorant. All churches are made up of people. People are imperfect and full of flaws. Therefore, all churches, no matter of what dominant race, are going to have flaws. So, the pastor’s concerns about the Black Church, while valid, felt like a focused and conspicuous attack against a group of people that are just different from him. (I wonder if the pastor has ever stepped foot into a church filled with predominantly black people.)

To end this post, I leave you with an explanation of my fiery commentary. Some people choose not to speak up when they feel wronged or when an act of ignorance has occurred. Well, frankly, I’m not those people. I don’t tolerate crap or ignorance. Really, ignorance is no excuse. The year of this post is 2014. We in America have come a long way to educate ourselves of the past and to grow from the mistakes of our forefathers. Therefore, there is no excuse for myself to tolerate racism or racially charged micro-insults and micro-assaults. Not in the world. Not in the Church. With all of this said, I leave to a new church praying that the lead pastor of the other church and his congregation would open their eyes and have a better understanding of how people who are different see the world and see God.

Proud to be Different

Posted in Clothing, Purpose with tags , on September 13, 2014 by Phil Martin

Proud to be Different

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Sept. 13, 2014

This post will be full of praise. I feel like I have found a temporary place of belonging, which happens to be my job.

I didn’t have much to admire about the good-for-now job I accepted in July. The new job was not my first choice after graduating college and considering a new career path. However, the thing I admire most about my job is its culture of diversity.

At work there are people of several different races and religions. We have people with different types of clothes, skin tones, and hairstyles. Of course, working near Columbus helps to make this diversity possible. Nevertheless, I actually feel proud to be different as a result. I feel happy to come to work each day, knowing I am comfortable among different types of people. I feel like I’m among friends, even though I do not get a chance to talk to most of my co-workers. I seem to fit right in seamlessly, which is very fitting for working at a warehouse for several clothing lines.

Honestly, I have felt so blessed over the past month for the diversity at work. I feel like God has blessed me with this job so I might, for once, feel comfortable with myself. Throughout my young adult life, especially being a minority among a majority of white peers, I’ve felt uncomfortable with myself. Many times, I felt like someone on the outside looking in. I have felt socially isolated at times because it felt like many people could not clearly relate with my life experiences. Most of the time I have felt ugly and undesirable because of my physical appearance. I am the guy who always wanted pale skin and long dark straight hair to feel beautiful and happy, like the attractive Bill Kaulitz of the past. To crush me even more, romantic pursuit has always been hard for me. A few young women in the past have said said they did not want to be a part of my life because they said “God has us on two different paths” or because “we are different” (whatever that is supposed to mean other than our most obvious difference). As you might read through this, I have not enjoyed the typical social life like others around me. But, that’s okay. My story must have a purpose since God has allowed it. After all the sadness of being different, I really do believe working at this job is by God working in my life and giving me what I need to thrive. (I guess He really has heard my complaints and cries about living in rural Southern Ohio after all.)

Because I have found a sense of belonging, I am not ashamed to wear my new red jogger pants occasionally. Ta da! I close this short post with a photo of the joggers:

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Personality I’m Looking For

Posted in Friends on September 3, 2014 by Phil Martin

Personality I’m Looking For

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Sept. 3, 2014

I want to be clear that I’m not looking for someone to date. I do not welcome any pursuits towards me. Very recently, I’ve gotten caught up in the emotions of young women and end up getting hurt. I know I am not ready to date any woman, nor am I in any position in life to make room for one. One problem is that I haven’t known what I’m looking for in a woman. However, I have considered a few personality traits I found attractive.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

No, I’m not saying I find a Cannonball Adderly fan to be attractive. (However, a fan of jazz is a plus.) I find people who have mercy for others to be attractive. I admire people who are quick to forgive, even if the fault is not their’s. When the fault is someone else’s, I love it when people show compassion to lovingly look beyond a wrong deed.

Speak the Truth in Kind

Another trait I find attractive of women are those who lovingly share the truth. I admire those who tell the truth without tearing another person to pieces or giving away their composure to anger. I’ve been a fan of those who kindly share the truth in this way. I also believe that there are ways to share the truth kindly without sugarcoating. Some people are not gifted in this; some are. I want to speak to women who are.

Tête-à-Tête

To add to the truth sharing piece, I also admire people who are comfortable and bold enough to tell me their concerns face-to-face. In Matthew, chapter 18, Jesus tells us to tell of our transgressions we have with another person privately face-to-face first. Then, you move down the line to bringing other people in who are well-equipped and have the best interests and care of both people to settle the dispute if the issue remains. This is the biblical model for resolving conflict. Unfortunately, people don’t always speak to others face-to-face first, which causes real pain. (Let me be the first to admit I too need to work on practicing this principle.) For women who can boldly and comfortably approach me with their issues with me, I have mad respect for them.

Evident Love for Christ

A big spiritual need in my life is to connect with other people who can spur me on to growing for my love and fascination for God daily. So, getting to know a woman who has evident love for God is a major deal. I say ‘evident’ because I want to know a genuine Christian. I don’t want to know a woman who is “Sunday-morning Christian” or only goes to church events to see her close friends. I want to know a woman who has a genuine love for God, who prays, journals, and speaks about God daily. A woman who loves Jesus more than she loves me is a keeper.

Like Ruth, Like Amos

If you’ve ever read the Old Testament books of Ruth and Amos you know that both people were fighters for justice of their people. Like Ruth and like Amos, I consider myself to be an advocate and fighter for social justice. I want to know a woman who sees beyond her own perspective and sees the hurt and suffering of people in this world from the lenses of their eyes. I want to know someone who has great understanding of people’s backgrounds and experiences — someone who is competent and sensitive of other cultures. Someone who can empathize well with others and fight for their needs and their rights is a major deal for me.

“Opposites Attract” Is a Lie

I do not put my trust in the saying “opposites attract”. From my experiences, I can attest to the fact that opposites do repel one another like simple magnets for a refrigerator. Many women I had been attracted to were hardcore gamers. Some listened to music other than jazz. Most were outgoing (which is very draining and challenging for an introvert like myself to contend with). So, I know I would probably be better off settling for a good woman who has many more similarities to who God molded me to become.

Unashamed

I close with a personality trait I believe is very critical for what I’m looking for in a woman. I want to know someone who is not ashamed of me because I look different. People have real prejudices of people of other races when it comes to mating. Some fear friends and family to know they are intimate with someone who looks different because they are concerned with their own image. Others fear they may not succeed or reach their full potential in life because they believe their partner may hold them back socioeconomically. These prejudices, I believe, are a mild form of racism against people who are different. These racist attitudes exist today as racism that is much more conspicuous than offensive speech and actions that people displayed 50 years ago. For a woman who becomes interested in me, she must not be ashamed of me for my outward appearance or socioeconomic status.

Happy to be Home

Posted in Friends, God's Love with tags , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by Phil Martin

Happy to be Home

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Aug. 28, 2014

I feel much differently about my return home than I did in May. Remember how much I had dreaded coming back? Well, I’ve been able to see why I’m supposed to be home over the past three months. It’s like I’m finally seeing what God was preparing for me to endure over this weird summer.

At the beginning of the summer, I felt hurt by someone who seemed to react poorly to an innocent card. I sent cards to 11 people shortly after my graduation. In each of the 11 cards, I had handwritten a personal note thanking each person for how their interaction with me had blessed me at some point in my four years in college. I also included my graduation head shot (mainly so each person could remember my face over the coming years). Unfortunately, one of the 11 people did not appreciate the card. I was devastated. I felt that the way the person expressed their dislike over the card seemed cruel. I also felt that I suffered a few personal cut downs that were unnecessary. Although I feel less hurt by this person’s harsh and merciless rejection, I’m glad I’m not in BG right now. Their feelings of distaste and dislike would eventually come out in a different way — maybe more devastating to me. Even more challenging would be dealing with seeing the person at church events and being reminded of the hurt.

Aside from a personal pain, I had to get the car I’m driving repaired two weeks ago. Had I stayed in BG, I might have ended up stranded on I-75 or a small country road not knowing my car had a serious issue that needed addressed. My family also helped cover me for the repairs.

A third blessing for me being home is that I currently have peace about my future. I feel that God has restored my peace over the past few weeks. I may not be working at an ideal job right now. I may not utilize the four-year degree I have earned. I do, however, still have a great shot to succeed. My work schedule allows me the opportunity to go back to school 12 months from now. My eyes are set on pursuing a Master’s of Social Work at Ohio State or the joint program with Miami (Ohio) and Wright State, but I will also consider back-up plans at community colleges.

I now close in saying that I feel like I’m less of a failure now. At the start of the summer, I got caught up in social comparisons. It got to me so much that I had to leave Facebook for six weeks. I immediately turned off all notifications after creating a new Facebook account and re-adding around 40 people. I also have not typed up any statuses; statuses were becoming a poor way of me expressing hurt and pain. Now, I’ve gotten back to journaling and speaking aloud to God on my rides to work and church. This expression of my feelings is much healthier, like my work through counseling in college, and some of my frustration has been relieved. At this point, it’s almost like I’m still not on Facebook. I’ve just now won control over the site and social comparisons, not the other way around. Thus, I no longer feel like much of a failure in life. I do have a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a 20-hour minor in Psychology anyway. My degree must mean something. I also have a novel to finish at some point in my life that means a lot to me as well.

Miscellaneous…

It feels so weird not looking forward to classes again. My sister and some of my friends have started a new year of classes this past Monday. I do miss that feeling of starting out fresh and re-energized.

I’ve been going to my new home church for the past four or five weeks now. I still like it, but I’m still trying to get used to the “small town church” culture. I am the only member who is an ethnic minority, and I am only one of a very few young adults. It still remains to be seen if I will feel like I can completely fit in, but I’m still giving effort to serve and be known. Possibly this Saturday morning I will help out the benevolence ministry at a local food pantry. In September, I also plan to attend a Thursday night lifegroup.

The First Visit

Posted in Friends, God's Love with tags , , , , on July 31, 2014 by Phil Martin

The First Visit

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

July 31, 2014

God gave me just what I needed, just what I asked for at my first post-college church visit this past Sunday. For this, I am so thankful and blessed this week.

Remember how scared I said I was about the church search process? Well, it is a very crucial process I need to get right.

Finding a church home and connecting with a community there is a major need for my life. Because of the remoteness and disconnection I endure living in my small rural village, I deeply long to connect with people. Because of the lonely nature of my job and the loneliness I feel each day, I need more connection to people. I still have my family, but I still need a support network of people from the outside. There’s just some things (like my own insecurities) I feel more comfortable sharing with people other than family. Another thing I need is to be a part of group of people similar to my age so that I can relate with the Christians around me and find more identification.

Meeting all these personal needs for Christian relationships with other people is something that remains to be seen right now. What I did discover at my Sunday church visit is that the congregation seemed friendly and welcoming. I was surprisingly overwhelmed by numerous handshakes, smiles, and greetings. Because of this marvelous first impression, I plan on coming back next week.

Despite the welcoming church experience, I have felt depressed this week about my lack of community in college. You might have heard of this saying: ‘You can have good grades, a social life, and sleep. But, you can’t have all three.” Well, I lacked a wholesome social life in college. To me, college was like a repeat of high school. Again, I made mistakes with people. Again, I did not know how to make friends well or interact well with the few I did have. And, sadly, again, I did not know how to approach a young woman in my life I had feelings for or felt attracted to. So, I often felt like an outcast among those around me, and my mind was riddled with obsessions over girls whom I was so cowardly to approach. A few people have also labelled me as the ‘quiet and creepy guy who treats pretty girls as subhuman because he’s afraid to talk to them’. With all of my social challenges going on inside me, I often felt lonely and alienated by others because of my loneliness. I would inevitably push people away; people would be turned off by me and run away and desert me or they would ignore me. People failing to meet my need for relationships, while I know they can’t completely meet, it all seemed too cruel. After high school and college — eight years combined of loneliness and social setbacks — I am really afraid of facing the same things in any church I go to. This real anxiety I have has robbed me of my peace in the past couple of weeks, and I almost have wanted to cry.

If you could pray that I could connect with this church well and commit to working through my challenges with God, please, that would golden.

Miscellaneous… 

My flags came in the mail last week. I have two of European countries because of possible family ancestry. Hanging above my bed is the flag of England, with its Saint George’s Cross (not to be confused with the flag of the Kingdom of Great Britain, which is the Union Jack) and the flag of Germany. I took down the flag of the U.S. state of Virginia, where I was born. That flag was poorly stitched.

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I may have to get a flag of Great Britain because I am somewhat of an Anglophile (not a big one, but I love Acoustic Alchemy, Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay for his Kitchen Nightmares, Genesis and Phil Collins, and worship artist Matt Redman).

I have a new outfit for the fall! I have a black cardigan (new), red tee shirt (new), red scarf (a year old), and black jogger pants. Red is my favorite color, and I love its color combination with black. Now that I have a ‘good-for-the-moment’ job, I can buy spiffy clothes from time to time. Yay! GE DIGITAL CAMERA

En route to pursuing entry into a Master’s of Social Work program, I will be volunteering at a local hospital. My volunteer orientation is actually this Friday (tomorrow). Yes! I’m excited to exercise my growing passion of helping people, while also growing in my social skills with people. Yes! Yes! I’m so excited now. [Insert cheesy smiley face here.]

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African slaves may have arrived to Virginia between the 17th and 18th centuries from either Barbados, New Netherlands (present day New York), or the Caribbean islands that are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, according to an article I read this past weekend. So, other than being, obviously, of African descent and very possibly English or German and Powhatan Native American, I may be parts-Caribbean and Dutch. There possibly is a connection between myself and Holland other than liking the Dutch national football team for its orange.

Return to Facebook

Posted in Blog, Friends with tags on July 23, 2014 by Phil Martin

Return to Facebook

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

July 24, 2014

I reneged.

In early June, I deactivated my Facebook account. I left the social media website after feeling it was disrupting my life.

Now, I have returned. Only this time, things will be much different. I guess you could say the changes will be more a re-branding of what you would see presented of myself.

First, I created an entirely new account. The old account, I have set to be permanently deleted in two weeks. I created the new page because I wanted to start out fresh and with a clean slate. I want new my page to be completely clean and free of sharing as possible. As for now, I don’t have any desire to share any typed status updates. I am also unsure how much of my blog I want to share as well. However, I might share photos or music from time to time. I just want to share less frequently.

Secondly, I am screening my friend requests very stringently now. On my old page, I had around 200 friends. Sadly, between five and 10 I communicated with on a regular basis. Only around five I had strong relationship with outside of Facebook. I have always had a major need to connect with others in my life (even for as introverted and quiet as I am), but I see it useless to have 200 friends and only truly connect with five percent of them. I crave relationship with people, some deeper than others, but I want to connect outside of Facebook more in this season of my life. For my new account, I only am accepting friend requests and adding people whom I am good friends with or have connected well with at some point in the past.

A third major change will be seen to my news feed. With each Facebook friend I have added back, I have un-followed them for future notifications. So while they remain connected to me, their activity will not appear on my news feed. I have done this because the social comparisons I had projected from what I saw on the news feed on my old account adversely affected me emotionally and psychologically. In this stage of my life, many peers around me have begun marrying their sweethearts, starting serious dating relationships or achieving life-fulfilling success. Like many other people in my place, it’s difficult to see that publicly displayed every day and not feel drained or depressed. So hiding each friend’s activity will help me cope better and relieve any hurt I could feel from social comparisons.

Finally, I created my new account mainly to preserve connections with some people from my college years at BG. I realize that, even for as useless I feel Facebook has become, my peers are still utilizing it as a major way to keep in touch. Knowing this, I wanted to leave that opportunity open. I know some colleagues of mine from my summer in Colorado were worried and sad about me leaving Facebook last month.

To close, I will say I have been so content in my six weeks off of Facebook. I feel refreshed. After journaling and expressing to God privately the hurt feelings I have felt in the past four years, I have felt refocused and energized. As long as I live and breathe, there will be challenges, but I’m still fighting. I haven’t conceded yet. I don’t want to either.

Miscellaneous… 

Barring any late change in plans, I still plan on beginning my church search this coming Sunday. There’s one church in the town 20 minutes west of me. I plan to check it out.

The flags I ordered should arrive in the mail tomorrow. The flags include the U.S. state of Virginia, the flag of England (the St. George’s cross), and the flag of Germany. Two posts ago, I said I bought three flags to hang in my bedroom because they symbolize identification and possible ancestry from a European spur in my family tree.

 

 

A Place to Belong

Posted in Blog, Friends with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2014 by Phil Martin

A Place to Belong

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

July 23, 2014

Imagine roaming the Earth as a nomad never to find a place to settle in, never to feel accepted by most others around. You might stop to rest in a new land with each new week that goes by, but the social isolation forces you to move on. How could you ever win in this situation?

Sounds restless to me. Welcome to my life.

I’ve never found a place where I can truly say “I belong.” I feel like a nomad wandering the highlands of ancient Europe but as an outcast without a clan to call my own.

My life between middle school through this point in my early adulthood shows glaring signs of social depravity.

Many times in high school I sat through many study halls and classes keeping to myself. Whenever I did not sit alone at lunch, I often felt uncomfortable with the other students around me. My discomfort and self-awareness around large groups of people, my shyness, and my poor social skills hindered my development of good, healthy relationships with my classmates. For example, I had issues participating in my Spanish class I shared my sister and her classmates; I felt picked on because I was quiet. Although several people knew and spoke to me of a diversity of cliches (football team, video game players, goths, average Joe’s, etc…), I was close friends with none of these people. Because of the rural environment where I have lived most of my life, very seldom did I interact with these people outside of school. As a result, I speak to none of these people today, being over four years removed from high school.

Roaming through my college years, and you would see more of the same pattern. I knew of several classmates from my journalism classes, but I never felt comfortable interacting with them. I guess I honestly didn’t how to. So then I kept to myself. Being a part of my college church felt very much like high school, as I described above. Several people knew of me and greeted me, but I connected with very few of them on a deep, personal but friendly level. My option to live on campus all four years further separated me from my cohorts, who mostly lived in an apartment complex the final two years. Especially in my senior year, I suffered loneliness, feeling that I was missing out on the community the seniors and juniors were enjoying.

Another issue related to my feeling of social isolation in college is social comparison. Comparisons destroy, so some say, but they’re so hard for me to avoid.

One example is how I compared myself to a very intriguing young man. He played the viola, spoke fluent German, appeared on a national primetime reality show, and was offered to apply at Yale, Harvard, and Oxford for his superior giftings and talents. Although he kept himself in the background, he attracted attention and fondness from others among us. How did I stack up against him? Well, like most other guys, not very well. An odd thing is that I never hated the guy for his attributes versus mine. In fact, I grew jealous of him. I found the guy to be very intriguing.

Another example is a student group I used to attend. The second year, I had to leave. Most of the people played video games, watched Dr. Who and The Hunger Game, were avid fans of anime and manga, and read the Game of Thrones (all of which I am so not interested in). Another thing is that some of the people seemed prissy, or a little too “prim and proper” and stiff towards me. As I said, I had to leave. I had to leave because there was no commonality between myself and those people, and it would be impossible for them to give me what I’ve truly wanted. Like the story of my life, I had no “place to belong.”

Sharing all of these real stories from my life leads me to this short summary: I’m still looking for a place to belong.

Arriving to this dream destination of rest and eternal peace and joy I feel may be very possible someday. Whenever I read chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, in the Bible, I often come across this hope. The author of Hebrews in this chapter writes about how God fulfilled His promise to the heroes of the Bible through their faith in His power. (This is why some Biblical readers call Hebrews 11 the ‘Faith Chapter’, by the way.)

Throughout the chapter, the author writes of the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, the prophets, and others having faith to see God’s plan for them out even though most of these heroes died before the fulfillment of their promise. Verses 13 through 16 speaks to my hope for a “place to belong”. The author writes that these Biblical heroes acknowledged that they were exiles and strangers on the earth seeking a homeland. In 16, he writes ” … it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared them a city.” That city God has prepared for all believers of Christ, described in the book of Revelation, is the New Jerusalem in a new world. At the end of time, all believers, sons and daughters of Christ, will live in this city. I have heard everyone will have new bodies, far better than our earthly ones in this life now. Most promising, there will be no more pain, sorrow, or tears and no more death, corruption and sin to contend with.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live in this New Jerusalem. In the book of Revelation, the city will have streets and walls fortified of gold. Trees will bare different types of fruit. There will be no sun or moon because the glory of the Lord will shine onto the city forever and forever. There will be no rivers or oceans on the new earth because the River of Life, the book describes, will flow from the throne of God. There will be no physical temple to gather in to worship Jesus because He will be there for everyone to meet in person. In paradise I will find a place to belong and Jesus will give me what I’ve always wanted and accept me as I am.

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