Well, my friends ARE in my head, but not the way Kurt Cobain meant it in those lyrics.
I’ve mentioned my friends in the band Lost and Found before. They tell a story about how, when they were just starting out, they decided to bike across America on their tour. The idea was that they would “find God” along the way as both the guys were trying to figure out what God wanted them to do after they’d hit roadblocks in what it was they thought they were going to do. What they discovered on the long journey was that they “found God” in the context of relationships made/developed/deepened with their friends who seemed to have the right words of encouragement or rebuke or insight or whatever else they needed to hear at that time.
As I’m in the midst of a roadblock of sorts myself, I had a friend tell me to do my best to pay strict attention to the Holy Spirit during this time of searching the next phase of my life. Specifically, he meant paying attention to what friends and acquaintances seem to be “speaking into my life.” His words. He even apologized for using Christianese as he said it. For that, I was most grateful.
I was also grateful for the advice, too. I’ve been trying to do that very thing. So, in that sense, my friends ARE indeed in my head.
What are they saying? I’ve been keeping a list. Among them:
“You should start a church. My family would attend in a heartbeat.” First of all, if I were to start a church the LAST thing I’d want to happen would be people leaving their church to come to mine. I’d start it with non-churched and/or non-Christians. Secondly, I’m not saying “never,” but I am saying it would take a tremendous work of God to change my heart because right now the last thing I’d want to do is start a church.
“I don’t think you should take a youth ministry job just like the one you left. Why would God move you out when you weren’t really looking to leave just to put you in a similar situation somewhere else? For some reason, I tend to agree with the thinking. At least at this point, when my family isn’t feeling financial stress yet.
“You need to teach youth ministry at a seminary or Bible college.” I kinda like the idea…but as I sought advice on that from those who could help me get to that point it would be a 3-year deal minimum to get the full academic credentials needed. One of the academic requirements is that you’re currently working for a church, so I’d need to get a job in ministry anyway.
“You need to change your circles of contacts. Using the same old contacts and methods of job search are going to lead you to the same old places.” This, I’m doing. But I haven’t jettisoned the old places, either.
“You need to attend ‘_____ Conference.'” The idea behind this one is that I’d get encouraged/inspired by whatever is going on at the conference they recommend. I’ve taken one person up on this one and I’ll let you know how it goes.
“You should write: a) A children’s book. b) A book about what I’m going through. c) A book about ‘Punk Rock Jesus.’ d) A book about why the suburban megachurch isn’t doing it for you anymore. e) A book about thoughts on life with God while road-tripping to every Major League park this summer. f) magazine article on a variety of spiritual subjects.” Obviously, I’m paying attention to this one as “writing” seems to be a big theme among my friend’s advice…but I have issues with each one of the suggestions that range from funding to downright cowardice to write what I’d need to write to all sorts of things between those two realities.
“You should figure out a way to just drink coffee/beer with people and talk about the spiritual life. You’re great at this.” I’ve found those jobs to be few and far-between, but there’s no question if I could be a Professional Friend, well, there’s allure to it.
This last one came after a friend asked me that age-old question: “If you were guaranteed that there was enough money and success were guaranteed, what would you do?” When I answered with this half-baked idea about opening a kind of community hang-out with free Wi-Fi, dartboards, comfy chairs, microbrew beers, pitchers of margaritas, after-school and/or post-game hang-out space for high schoolers. Open-mike nights or garage bands. Art shows, TV sports/event nights, mimosa Sunday brunch. Basically, a “drop-in” center idea being used broadly in Europe to create community in which the Kingdom life/values can be exported without the normal constraints of what we know as “church.” Keep in mind that that idea is “half-baked,” and I’m being generous when I use “half.”
“You need to figure out WHY that idea has such an appeal to you and build outwardly from there. My guess is somewhere in there is what you’re supposed to be doing.” I tend to agree and have been journaling about and praying through all sorts of associated thoughts along these lines. Still don’t have any real conclusions, or the approximately $1.5 million I’d need to even get the idea off the ground in the location I’d like to use…or even done enough research to see if that location would be suitable. Again, half-baked.
“You should start a microbrewery in Grapevine on Main Street.” Along the same lines as above. I admit that I’m in process of reading up on home-brewing and all that would entail and might by a home-brewing kit this week. Other than that, I have zero beer or management or business experience. My guess is that I’m not quite ready for restaurant management and since I’ve never brewed so much as a bottle of beer…
Welp…that’s a pretty broad spectrum of how my friends are in my head. Basically, if I’m tying the threads together correctly, I need to be hanging out in coffee shops/bars, drinking lots of coffee/beer and writing. I’d be a coffeehouse Hemingway starter kit.
So, here’s what I’m asking in light of all this…
…and yes, I realize I’m opening myself up in a big way here for all sorts of shenanigans…
…let’s pretend you and I are in a coffee shop, having a cup of joe, and I ask you to speak into my life. I apologize for the Christianese.
So, you there. My friend…get in my head.
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*Oh, and be forewarned if we’re chatting: I’m paying strict attention to everything you’re saying.*