Friday, December 17, 2010

Coming in for a landing...

So, I have decided on January 5th as the ending date for my vow. I am planning on taking the clippers to work to have my clients do the honors of the head shave. I am working with adults with developmental disabilities. I realized a month or so ago that if I showed up to work with no hair one day I might cause some turmoil with a group of people who survive on their routines. My solution (we'll see) is to have them do the haircut portion of my transition out of Nazariety.

As far as the rest of wrapping up the vow, I need to do some serious thinking in the next couple weeks. I want to figure out some of the sacraficial elements of ending the vow. I've run into a couple snags in my original plan. The Suburban I intended to sign over to my friend, Darel now has a blown out transmission. I am thinking that giving it to him may not be as exciting for him as it would be sacrificial for me. As far as the tools go, I have a pile of things collected in my garage (admittedly not as many as I had hoped). The only problem is that winter in Durango is not exactly garage sale season and my stuff doesn't really amount to much in the ebay universe. I am wondering if giving it all away might be a better option--even though that doesn't do much for the Hotchkiss family who I intended to donate the proceeds to.

I am currently racking my brain to try and come up with ideas of what I could give as meaningful sacrifice in ending this vow. I want to do something because I am grateful for the opportunity to do this and I feel that God has shown me some things in this process that have changed and shaped me.

The End Is Near

So, at this point, I am really looking forward to the end of this vow. Not that it hasn’t been a fascinating experience; I’m just ready for it to be done. I was thinking about it the other day and it’s been about four months since the last time I had a conversation with someone that wasn’t interrupted by a comment about my hair or beard!
Last week, my friends who live in China visited us and I had a chance to reflect on the vow as I caught them up on how it’s been going. Here are a few things I think I am taking away from this experience:
I want to trust God. This may seem elementary, but I want to truly trust God—depend on him and learn to live with what he provides on every level of life. I believe that I have had some level of trust in the past, but I am ready to drive deeper in my dependence on him.
I want to honor God with the way I use the resources he has entrusted to me. I will continue to use only cash for my expenditures. Jenn will still carry an ATM card, but the credit cards are gone for good. Our next step is to decide how much money we need to live and commit to give the rest to serve God’s Kingdom.
I am going to go through my wardrobe and decide what I really need. I won’t be staying with the three changes thing, and I may never wear a collared polo shirt again, but I like the idea of simplifying and living with less clothing.
As far as I am concerned, this all adds up to a deeper submission to Christ’s lordship in my life. By lordship, I mean that I go further in allowing Jesus to lead my thinking and living as opposed to just making my way and asking for his blessing—or even different from doing what I think he would want me to do. My aim is to allow what Jesus has said to inform my thinking, but to listen to what he has to say to shape my life now.
Oddly enough, this language is probably close to how I would have described my Christian life before this vow. Now, however, the words carry a different meaning—a new depth, maybe.

The part of all this I may have to think about a little more is how I use my Nazarite experiences to encourage others along a similar path. I would love to come up with a way to articulate what I’ve experienced and help other people figure out how to structure and follow through with their own vows.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coping Stragegery

This has been a wild week (a few weeks, actually) for me emotionally. I am finishing up training on a new job working with developmentally disabled adults which has been quite a process--along with the emotional realities of actually working with the people involved. I also have some family stuff on my mind. By Friday morning, I found myself at the end of my rope--emotionally exhausted, looking for somehting to make myself feel better. It was fascinating to me that the first things I looked to were the very things I have chosen to deny in this vow. I wanted to buy something. I wanted to spend some money--a new toy or piece of clothing, a bike part (or a whole bike!). When I came to terms with the fact that I could not purchase my way out of my emotional state, I immediately turned to my wardrobe. I honestly felt, in that moment, that would be so much better if I could just put on a different shirt!

In the end, I asked God to honor my vow and help me find a healthy way of dealing with my feelings. I decided to go work out and then spent the evening with Jenn. We had a great conversation at dinner and then watched a friend who was acting in a college play. It was a good evening and, I think it did good things for my emotional state of being. I wonder how that date with my wife would have been different if I had had the opportunity to try and resolve my stuff with...well, stuff.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Half Way There...

So, I've hit the half-way mark in my Nazarite vow. This has been quite a defining exprerience for me. For the most part, I believe the theme for me has been trust. I have been learning more about what it means for me to trust God in the past few months than perhaps ever in my life. It has been most enlightening in terms of my finances. I have had some great moments of conviction and direction in how I handle my money and how I trust God to provide for me.f

I've started a new job in the last couple weeks working with developmentally disabled people in a day program. This has been an interesting transition on many levels. It is the first time I have taken on a near full time position in a field other than vocational ministry in about 15 years. I've done some short-term things, but nothing like a second career or long-term position. It is also an interesting job in terms of the characters involved. Ever day I become more and more convinced that I have uncovered one of the places Jesus would be hanging out if he were here today. We all love the Xmen--mutants with extraordinary powers who can do amazing things and have special abilities. There are real people out there who have mutated chromosomes and are born under extraordinary circumstances, but most of us would rather pretend they don't exist because they make us nervous with their loud noises and unpredictable behavior. I am being stretched and challenged in some profound ways with this new job.

As far as trust goes, I am having to trust God in this new job. I am trusting him to help me with transition which is always emotionally exhausting. I am trusting him to provide for our finances in a job that pays less than the kid gets who collects shopping carts at the grocery store. I am trusting him to care for my family as our schedule is stretched a little thin--I am already extremely grateful for good friends and grandparents on this one!

I am enjoying this process. I am ready to shave off my hair, but not very interested in giving up being set apart to God as a Nazarite.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


One of the issues with following through with a vow like this is the temptation to lose sight of what I am doing by becoming legalistic in following the vow. I don't want to make a mockery of it by treating it frivolously, of course, but a danger for me is to become so wrapped up in the structure of the vow that I forget what I am about.

I am thinking that what creates a legalistic attitude in me is usually a failure to distinguish between setting myself apart to God and trying to prove something to God. Being a person with generally low self-esteem, I know quite a bit about trying to prove myself to the people around me.

I've really wrestled with some of the details of this vow...should I try to wear the same shorts when it snows? Can I use more than three pairs of underwear if they get lost in the laundry? Can I pull a few nose hairs if they are driving me out of my mind and generally unhygenic? I'm starting to see these questions as coming from one or both of two places inside me: often it is out of my sincere desire to follow through with this vow to the best of my ability. I want my best to be set apart to God--now and always. The other part of me, however, is the part that feels that I have to prove something to God in this vow as if I am secretly afraid he is going to measure my worthiness by how I follow through with my promise.

I need to allow for my honest pursuit of honoring God--it's often the best thing I have going for me. I also need to work on suppressing my legalistic desire to prove something (something impossible for me to actually prove) to God. So far, the most useful tool to me in dealing with this tension is fatherhood. I look at my son and see how many things he does to get my attention--to make me proud of him. I know he loves riding his bike, but there is a huge part of him that is doing it because his dad is obsessed with bikes and he wants to connect with me. I don't think that's a bad thing, in fact, it IS a great way for us to connect and I don't expect him to be a pro biker or even that he will stay with it his whole life like he is now. I am just happy (beyond happy, to be honest) to see him learning how to put his chain back on and adjust his seat and patch tubes. Truth be told, I can hardly think about it without tearing up--and it's not because he is such an amazing bike rider, but because I know that, at least part of it, is for me. It makes me makes me makes it easy for me to love him even more.

When I think of this vow in that context (and my biblical understanding of God's love), I see that he must be beyond happy with the vow I've made. I may obsess over wierd things, or make mistakes, but he is not looking so much at how legalistic I am in fulfilling my vow as he is at the fact that one of his children is doing something FOR HIM.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How's it goin'?

Enough people around me know about the vow that I get this question a lot. I like it because most people are genuinely interested. It has been a hard question to anser, however. One of the main reasons I chose to make this vow was that I wanted it to be an act of worship--nothing to do with getting something out of God, I wanted to do something FOR God. The book of Numbers put it, "set yourself apart unto the LORD".

Having the purpose of doing something for God as opposed to getting something from God makes it very hard to assess how the vow is going. I am liking the vow. Things have become more simplified for me from how I dress to how I spend/don't spend money. I like the daily reminder in the mirror that I have chosen to pursue God more than my perception of what people want from me. My diologue with God continues to grow as I am constantly aware of what my priorities are. I still struggle with sin and my own selfishness--as usual. Other than that, I can't really tell how it's going--I suppose you'd have to ask God what he thinks about that.

I am guessing that much of what I take away from taking this journey will become apparent to me after all is said and done. I think this is how it should be. For the next four months, my focus is to continue to try and bring glory to God through this vow--I don't really want anything from him.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Awkward Nazarite

Last night I had an awkward moment in my Nazariteness. It has been interesting to figure out how to keep three changes of clothes clean (especially while helping my sister paint her new Habitat for Humanity house). Yesterday, I threw my clothes in the washing machine leaving myself one change of clothes to wear that evening. When I put on my shirt, noticed that I had apparently spilled ice cream on the front of it! The washing machine was still going--no time to dry things before I left for the kids' open house and a meeting with my improv group. In the end, I had to put on my sweatshirt. Besides the fact that it was 80 degrees outside, the general concensus among my improv buddies was that the shirtless zippered hoodie outfit made me look like an extra from the Big Lebowski.

Oh well, it was bound to happen!