Last year, I wrote about my one year old's epiphany. I wanted to continue the tradition this year. Two years ago on this day, I was rebaptized. These are the things I learned as I turned two years old in Christ.
It is an uncomfortable word. It is an uncomfortable experience. Yet, while I look back over the course of this past year, I have a deep appreciation of the moments of humiliation in my life. See, I am a stubborn and hard-hearted man, and so I have realized that while affirmation and encouragement can be meaningful, it is not what really pushes me into greater growth. The experiences in my life where I fall down on my face in humiliation are the ones that ultimately create more growth in me. I cling to Christ closer. I am made small in my own eyes and it causes me to depend more fully upon Jesus. As my mentor Matt Minikus said to me, Cling to the things which humble you. I normally run away from them, but over this past year I have found these moments to be the ones where heaven draws nearer to me.
I have it. I was very surprised when I realized it. I didn't expect it. I didn't see it coming. I always considered myself a very open and accepting person, but it turns out that I am a bigot. To be bigoted is to reveal an obstinate belief in the superiority of one's own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others. Those of you who know me personally will probably agree that I struggle with this a lot. I realized some months ago and I have continually realized it over the course of this year, perhaps because I dedicated the year of 2013 to fighting my personal bigotry. What I realized is that my bigotry was tied into who I was and that it didn't matter what ideological tendencies I leaned to. I have gone through hyper conservative, hyper liberal, and very backslidden phases and I can attest that no matter what I believed, I had the tendency to look down upon the 'others.' I believe it is a human plague and it doesn't matter whether I am particularly religious or not, it is going to emerge. Therefore, I am wielding the weapons of Christ against it this year. I mean, you tell me, is there any room for bigotry in the fellowship of believers where we are supposed to reflect a unity in Christ comparable to the one the Father and Son enjoy?
Last year, when I turned one year old in Christ, I was still struggling with a lot of grief and a lot of bitterness. I cannot say I have been totally healed from those things. I must admit there are times where I still struggle with wanting to disengage, be depressed, and throw a little self-pity party to which no one has any interest in coming to. So yes, I am not totally healed, but over the last year, I have recovered my ability to enjoy. It's come slowly, much to the chagrin of my old ARISE intern friends. I had such a hard time letting loose and having fun when I was with them. The warmth, compassion, and love of friends, family, and my girlfriend, have made them vessels of the Spirit to guide Bryant back into the folds of joy. I know that I am positive and optimistic at heart, but much sin, guilt, and heartbreak have created barriers and suffocated the roots of joy in my heart. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ who has been able to give life to these seeds though. As I turn to two years old, I find myself laughing more often. I find myself being able to take a night off and make small talk again. Heck, I even find myself using smileys often. My happy dancing is back!
>)")> ^(")^ <("<(
There are my honest reflections as I turn two years of age in Christ. I am ever grateful the Spirit called me and continues to call me. I know I am far from the mark, but as I look back over this year, I find reason to have faith the Lord is raising me up. And with faith, comes hope. Now, hope does not disappoint, right?