September 12, 2014
by Travis Culver, The Rest Of Us
This week I'm at the Christian Music Broadcasters "Momentum" national convention. I came here thinking it may be my last. With my head full of questions and my heart full of pain (gosh that's hard to admit publicly). I've been asking God a lot of questions. And I mean a LOT.
I genuinely feel like God has been speaking directly to me just in the past 24 hours. .
I'd like to share those moments on here. It's the closest thing to a blog I have for now. I hope that's ok with you. If not, unfollow me I suppose. I don't want that, but I'll understand.
Otherwise, I'd love for you to read them as I post, share you own journey. Whatever.
I'm calling them Momentum Moments. Maybe it's cheesy. That's fine. It's me.
Here goes -
Momentum Moment #1:
Jesus Loves Me. Broken, confused, self-conscious me.
Momentum Moment #2:
When something is made to last, it is made with purpose.
While You and I may be in a place right now where we can't quite see what that purpose is, if God's word is true, then you and I DO indeed have a purpose.
Just like a mother who meticulously and painstakingly cuts, measures and sows together a special dress for her little girl, God has put that kind of effort, that kind of diligence and gentle, tenderhearted love into you and I.
We are not here by accident, a product of some cosmic hiccup. We are designed for a purpose, built with a passion, and are being prepared for a great and lasting story.
But like any great story, the real payoff is in the final pages. Unlike a book, though, we are not able to see those final pages, yet. What we do know is not only how the story began, but how the ending is promised to be.
The pain is in the waiting, but it's a wait worse enduring….
A great story. Your story, my story, penned by the very hand of God is unfolding. Don't try and jump to the end. Enjoy the journey.
"For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well." - Psalms 139:13,14
Momentum Moment #3:
Hope and disappointment cannot coexist.
There are a lot of words that get overused. Words like "love", "hate", and "need". But hope, hope is a word I honestly do not think can ever be overused. And that's because hope is at the very heart of our future. When we are hopeless, we see no future for ourselves.
I have struggled with hopelessness a lot over the past few months. No, wait. Let me be honest. Years. For some reason, I have always been my own worst critic. All my life.
I suppose I could blame the bullies that picked on me as a kid for my lazy eye. The girls that ignored me when I was so lonely in high school. But in all honesty. It's me. I am the one propagating the lie. It has been ME that has engaged in the negative self-talk. I am the one who has told myself I'm not good enough. I'll never make it. I'm ugly, fat, balding and with very little real worth.
In a word - hopeless.
Yet, all along the journey, God has been faithful. I just have made the choice not to see it sometimes. He has placed people in my path. People who speak His very words - "I love you." "You matter." "I have a plan for you."
Yet, almost every single time, I tell them they are wrong.
I guess that's not quite true. I tell ME they are wrong. In my own head, I proceed almost immediately to deconstruct their words. I will pick those words apart, tell myself they wouldn't say that if they really knew me. Or that that was kind of them, but since the plans I think should be coming together aren't coming together, they are wrong.
Here's the cold, hard fact I'm having to face: My hopelessness is my fault. And that makes me really nervous to put into print. And that's because I can almost guarantee that soon I will have those same self-conversations again with someone and somebody somewhere will say "Remember that post you wrote? Hopelessness is YOUR fault, remember?"
And you would be right.
So what then? How do I fix that? How do you?
I wish I could say I knew. I don't. But that would sure be the secret sauce wouldn't it?
Here is what I DO know. God is a God of hope. That means, hopelessness isn't His.
Before you or I get too far ahead of ourselves, pump the brakes before you go blaming Satan. Yeah, he's a bad dude. Yes, he's evil. But he doesn't MAKE you do anything. He doesn't have that kind of power over you and I, only we have that.
So I don't have all the answers. That's why I've started writing these. I simply don't. And neither do you. Maybe together we can get closer.
But what I feel like God has been trying to teach me through all of this is simply that hopelessness is on us. And while there's no magic bullet solution out there, there is one simple thing I'm learning to do - state the facts. Or, to borrow from Dana Wilde - Train Your Brain. When those heart-rotting words and phrases start seeping in, recognize it, then push back with facts, not emotions.
"People I love and respect have said this about me."
"I have been able to accomplish some amazing things, like _________________."
And "Wait a minute, something's wrong here. I'm believing this stuff, but God told me _______________."
Trade disappointment for hope. Make the choice. That's what I'm learning.
Momentum Moment #4:
One Foot In Front Of The Other...
It's funny how quickly we forget even the most basic lessons we learned as little kids.
For many of us, when we were learning to walk, it took us finally putting one foot in front of the other. To finally ditch the army crawl, the bum slide or the furniture cling long enough to take the most terrifying step of our life-up to that point.
And then the next step, and the next step, and the next step… one foot. In front of the other.
I had someone write me yesterday after I posted my first momentum moment, and asked me what it was I thought my purpose/story was. I told him that I can't possibly know what my story is fully yet because it is still being written. Even as I write these words, the pen is literally in God's hands, drawing across the yet unwritten pages of my life.
But what I CAN know is my purpose. And so can you. I think in some ways it's far more simple than any of us realize. It's far more simple because our purpose is, I believe, written into our very DNA.
It's that thing you have loved ever since you were old enough to remember. That passion or hobby you have that you can't quite explain 'why' you love it. You just DO.
THAT is your purpose. Or at least a clue to it.
When you and I came into existence, God had a specific plan. No, I'm not talking about predestination or anything like that, but I think He had a specific plan for the KINDS of things we were made to do.
For example, some of us just absolutely love details. We don't know why, we just do. We want to know HOW things work. If we were going to run a lemonade stand as kids, we made up a spreadsheet of crayon and a piece of our older brothers college ruled notebook paper. We could never explain quite why, we just NEEDED to know. Others, like me, were drawn from a very early age like moths to a bedroom light bulb to music. We never really fully knew why, it was just almost as if we were incomplete without it. Like it was this missing piece to our puzzle that once put in place we all of a sudden exploded into some great big tapestry bigger than the sum of our parts. THAT, I believe is a clue to our purpose.
So what's our story then?
This has been a tough one for me as well, because I have asked the question of what my purpose is a lot over the last couple years. Without an answer to that question I have found myself fighting hopelessness. But if you and I can take a long hard look at the things we just inherently love, things we are drawn to with a magnetism we can't quite explain, that starts us down the road we are supposed to be on. The road that is our story.
So as I have endeavored to find out what my story is here at momentum. As I continue to wrestle with my own personal demons and the thoughts I think about myself and others, I am coming to realize that sometimes our life's journey can be far less complex than we make it. Sometimes it's simply about putting one foot in front of the other and just focusing on the now, today. The moment we are in and the people we are in it with.
In the words of my friend Michelle Calvert Ross:*
"Stop ruining today worrying about tomorrow."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5,6
*Who came up to encourage me yesterday morning when she saw my tears even though I hoped no one was looking…
Momentum Moment #5:
If you're anything like me, you miss stuff. And there's all sorts of reasons why. For me, it's a twisted mix between being ADD and liking to talk, a lot. sometimes way too much.
And the danger in talking a lot, and being easily distractible is that you can miss what's right in front of you. Tullian Tchividjian told a story today about looking all over his house for his cell phone only to discover it was in his HAND the entire time (I've don't this so I can't judge). The VERY thing he was looking for was right there, in his hand.
I kinda think I've been guilty of this far more than I'd like to admit. So busy wondering what's next. What's going to pay the bills. What I can do to make an impact and keep contributing to the industry that I love, that I've totally missed things right in front of me.
The past few days (probably WAY longer than that, I'm just thick-headed), I think I have seen little divine 'bread crumbs' along the way. I say I 'think' because I'm a stewer. Meaning, I stew on things. I worry. I obsess. When I don't have answers to my questions I go into problem-solving mode. Working tirelessly mentally to try and figure it all out. But the trouble is, that's not working, and I'm tired. Like, really, really tired.
I'm tired of fighting. Tired of trying. Tired of wondering and waiting, only to fee like I'm getting no answers. Except, I probably have been getting answers, or at least little hints and I've been too busy trying to be God to actually pay any attention to them.
But thank God, Jesus is tireless, patient and relentless. And that's what it apparently must take to get through thick-headed stewers like me.
There have been quite a few of my industry peers that have loved on me, encouraged me and straight up lifted me up over the past three days. Things artists have said from the stage that they believed would encourage someone, not knowing it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear from God. It felt like this entire event was for me (of course it wasn't and that's a good thing).
See, here's the deal. To be vulnerable (ick, I'm a guy. I don't like that word...), I figured I'd already been forgotten. "Left Behind" by the industry I loved. Hey, I'm the one that stepped back after all, so it would be 'my fault.' What possible motivation would my friends from the record labels have to spend time with me when I wasn't making on-air music decisions currently? What motivation would my radio friends have with me not being in 'their world' any more? At least not currently.
Yet, time and time again, Jesus showed Himself to me through those VERY people. Including a couple artists that actually remembered my name and were just as kind as the day we'd me when I was at a radio station and could "do something" for them.
Man, do I have a lot to learn. About God, HIs plan for me, where I fit now in this industry, what I can contribute, and on and on and on. But He has been teaching me SO VERY MUCH over the past days and it really all started with this one basic idea - Listen Close.
"He says, "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalms 46:10
I want to mention some folks specifically who showed me great kindness this weekend by name. You probably don't even know it, but God used you, I believe very deliberately, to speak to my broken, aching and hurting soul. Thank you for listening to Him, and to me...
Kevin McNeese, Chris Hauser, Charles Van Dyke, Michelle Calvert Ross, John Butler, Joel Smallbone, Bill Scott, Paul Hernandez, Debbie Hernandez, Jerry Woods, MarkandNancy Giles, Bob Christler, Tim Timmons, Ryan Stevenson, Kai Elmer, Katie Green, Jamie Neeck Rodgers, Kyle Fenton, Dave Kirby, Lauren Libby, Brian Thiele, Kenny R. Rodgers, Brian Sumner, And, specifically, these artists whose words touched me deeply. Know that what you say matters, not just at shows, but at these sometime tough radio conventions too - Francesca Battistelli, Mandisa, Jamie-Grace, Sanctus Real, Rend Collective, Tenth Avenue North,
I'm sure I have forgotten someone and if I have and I remember it I will add you. But again, thank you.