Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coincident or Destined

Have you ever been faced with a mind blowing small world encounter? Disneyland and Disneyworld have a ride called "It's a Small World," which is a different kind of mind blowing. It is a Disney original that you must go on, it is terrible, but you cannot enter those parks and not ride it. It would be like going to college in Tuscaloosa and never going to City Cafe or Dreamland. Going to New York City and not seeing the Statue of Liberty; New Orleans and Cafe Du Monde. I digress. I have a small world story that will probably put your small world story to shame.

Last Friday I booked a gig as a background actor in an episode of the new CBS series, "Mad Love." I got paid to stand in the background of scenes and pantomime conversations with other people. It was a lot of awkward and a lot of fun! The show was taped in Culver City on the Sony Studios lot, which is about thirty minutes away from my apartment. When I got there I got my visitors' pass and made my way to the stage where we would be filming. This was so exciting! My first Hollywood experience! After I got there I was directed to the background actors' holding trailer where I set my bags down. Part of doing background is that you have to bring your own wardrobe. It is a long story, but you bring all these clothes options and then go through the wardrobe department and have them approve your looks.

On my backpack I have a small Canadian flag patch from when I spent the summer with World Changers in Canada. There were about fifteen to twenty extras in the room and one asked if I was from Canada. Upon responding that I was from Alabama someone spoke up from across the room and said, "ROLL TIDE!" Excited and disoriented I said, "ROLL TIDE... are you from Alabama?" Here is the rest of the dialogue:

Him: "Yes"
Me: "What part are you from?"
Him: "Tuscaloosa"
Me: "...No way! I'm from Cottondale! Where did you go to school?"
Him: "I went to Central."
Me: "What year did you graduate?"
Him: "'92"
Me: "My brother-in-law graduated in '93! Max Karrh?"
Him: "Dude, my sister used to babysit Max!"

WHAT? Are you kidding me? I am currently 2,035 miles away from home, in a metro with over 10 million people and I just met a guy who is not only from the same state and town as me, but whose sister babysat my brother-in-law!? Coincident or destined?

This Sunday after church a few of us walked to a Denny's that was across the street. I cannot tell you the last time I ate at a Denny's. I am pretty sure there is a faded plastic kid's cup in a Cottondale cabinet that marks that occasion. These days I am trying my best to not eat out. It is just cheaper and healthier to cook and prepare the food yourself. However, it is very nice to fellowship and get to know new people after church, especially being new, so I went along. I decided before hand that I was only going to eat half of whatever I ordered so that I could eat the rest for dinner. If I could turn one meal into two I could justify spending the money on eating out. I got a delicious hamburger and fries that I would have normally finished but found myself full with half a burger and half an order of fries left. I asked for a carryout box and packed my food, I was the only one that had any leftovers. After taking literally four steps out of the door there was a homeless man standing there, who simply asked for my leftovers. He had no clue what was in the box, but he was hungry. Coincident or destined?

These things happen more often than we notice, sometimes we deliberately ignore them. It IS a small world, and God is in control of it. Sure, I believe that somethings are just a coincident. My roommate and I both wore green pants to church on Sunday, nothing spiritual about that. But let us not overlook our situations and environment. Instead of taking the time to complain about the weather or about the length of a line, lets take the time to see why we are in them. God may have us in a place for a reason.

As for the homeless man, I told him to get a job and kept walking. Just kidding, I handed him my food. My goal was to turn one meal into two and I did. There is no way that was a coincident, God provided for him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is the Real World on the Map?

(written for last Tuesday's post, lack of internet prevented that. So pretend it's last week.)

Has anyone actually found the real world? Not the MTV show, but the “Real World.” This post, in sorts, is a continuation of last week’s, “A Tale of Two Cities.” While packing and moving back and forth from Tuscaloosa to Los Angeles, I have thrown around the term the real world more times than I have had birthdays. When coming home after being in Los Angeles I said I was going back to the real world. Then when packing to head back to Los Angeles from the previous said real world, I said that I was going to the real world. Lost yet? Now my parents are leaving for Tuscaloosa tomorrow and I will be on my own once again, and you guessed it, I will be in - the - real - world.

This Matrix of a situation is not just a recent phenomenon. For anyone who has ever been to a church camp, mission project or a regular summer camp, when it is time to return home we say we are headed back to the real world. When we are students and it is time to return to school from summer or Christmas break, we are going back to the real world. When we graduate from college we are then welcomed to the real world. So where is this so called Real World, do we even know? Do we each have our own reality that we are bound to? Is it always the unpleasant like school, work, or a land of bills; or can it be an enjoyable place?

I for one cannot answer this question entirely or give you a mathematical equation to find the answer. I do believe that none of us have reached our real world yet. Without turning this into a huge theological debate, our real world is our eternity. None of the stresses or worries we have today will matter in the future; most will not even matter one year from now. Remember junior high drama? None of that mattered! Who we are now, what we do, what we believe and whom we worship all determine where our real world will be. This is what does matter. I challenge you to reflect on your life, your frustrations, your joy, and your beliefs. Where is your real world?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

As I lay in my bed for the first time last Saturday in almost two months, I found myself in an odd situation. Something just did not seem to be right. I was in the same house, same bed, same family so what was different? The answer to that question is still unknown but allow me to walk through my hypothesis.

For nearly two months I have been working on making Los Angeles my own. I was making new friends, constantly searching for a place to live and visiting different churches of all types of worship styles. I was finding a roommate and looking for new shops. I was applying for jobs and going on interviews. Simultaneously, however, things were just as progressive back home. Friends moved, my childhood pet died, holidays were celebrated and degrees were earned. Wedding plans were made and dates were set.

Somewhere in my psyche I convinced myself that everything back in Tuscaloosa would be frozen in time while I moved ahead. As I lay there I realized this place was no longer mine, yet Los Angeles was not mine either. I found myself in some kind of limbo, not the game with the broomstick unfortunately, but more of the unknown. I had a Home; it is where the heart is, right? And rest assured, that was in Tuscaloosa! Nonetheless, I have discovered that I am a man stuck between two cities. My home in one but now my life in another. I can only assume that this is what most people will feel at one point in their life; whether it be from going away for college, work, or marriage. It is all just another part of growing up and making your life your own. This perspective just adds to the excitement and anticipation of what is to come! Because of this, clutching to my faith and values is ever more important.

I am writing this the day before I head back to Los Angeles. This time my stay will be for a much longer period of time. I am positive that I will have these feelings all over again when I get to my new apartment. My parents will be helping me move in and I have brought some special things from home. Hopefully, this will potential help bridge the gap between my two cities.