Truth: Miles and Miles

I went for a walk yesterday with Chelsea May, and we managed to cover a little over two miles as we meandered through the University of Texas’ campus. Our internal odometers, though, suggested that we had traveled much, much further.

This is something I have experienced many times in my wandering about in nature. When I’m out hiking or hunting, I assume that I’ve just conquered at least a dozen or so miles and feel accomplished until I map out my route and see that my perceived number was way off. It’s a humbling moment because I think I’ve gone so far but I have yet to put up any real numbers. It can be depressing and frustrating (especially when my legs are aching), but it can also be an opportunity to realize how much further I could have gone, and can go in the future.

I was recently ruminating with a classmate about how I had wasted the last twenty years, wandering through life and not making any real progress or movement forward. Honestly it can be a little discouraging to be surrounded by people much younger than I who have done so much more with their lives and have a set trajectory for their futures. They have had a plan since high school and have been working diligently toward their goals.

I can vividly remember discussing my dreams of being a youth pastor with a woman at my church as I clearly articulated my desire to help people, guide teens, and share God’s love with the world. While I had these plans, I also had setbacks: minor indiscretions leading toward lifetime commitments; taking advice from poor counsel; listening to the don’t and shouldn’t; taking the safe and easy path because it was safe and easy. As I reflect on my life and the 39 years I’ve experienced, I think I’ve put in a lot of time. I’ve accomplished a lot but don’t have a lot to show for it. I’ve think I’ve put in a lot of miles, but haven’t traveled very far.

The good thing is that my perception is off. Just like my venture through the UT campus, my journey through life has not been as long and toilsome as I think it is. No doubt I’ve put in some miles in my life: I’ve been places, seen things, done a lot, and survived it all. But the best part of it is that I’m not done.

I’m not done.

I still have a journey ahead of me. I still have things to accomplish. I still have a vocation calling me and I can still heed that call. Those rabbit trails in my life were not setbacks or failures – they were experiences that gave me a greater understanding of the world, of life, and of God’s undying, unconditional love.

May we travel far, may we experience much, and may we diligently follow the course set before us as best we can. And when we venture off course, may we lean on the knowledge of God’s sovereignty to bring us back.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Social Media

I am not a good user of Facebook.  I don’t often update my photos, and when I do I usually delete the old photo.  I don’t change my status – lately it’s just been links to my blog.  I rarely ‘like’ someone’s posts and I even more rarely comment on them.  I don’t send friend requests, I don’t click on ads, I don’t follow social media stars, and I rarely join groups.  I am the poster-child for poor social media presence.

My lack of use is partially because I don’t really care to do any of it, and part of it is because I don’t see the point in it – especially with commenting.  I am amazed at the number of people who choose to comment on Facebook posts and it intrigues me when a comment is made on a post that has zero connection to the commenter.  When I’m scrolling through Facebook I may see a picture and think, Ha! That is true! or Well, that’s completely false.  Rarely do I stop, pull up my keyboard, and go to town on the various points as to why it’s a lie or why it made me laugh.

A few months back a friend of mine posted about how he was feeling diminished as a person and people still treated him horribly even though he has just as many rights as the next individual.  Because it’s just a thing I do, I wanted to uplift and encourage him, so I offered words of hope and reminded him that he is valued and cherished.

As with most Facebook postings, someone commented on my comment and said that my words weren’t necessary because our mutual friend already knew these things.  This person went on to say that it was a larger issue and work needed to be done to fix the problems that perpetuate people’s thinking about race, culture, and ethnicity.  They tried to engage me several times to discuss their points and why I was incorrect.

I just wanted to be nice to my friend.

While I wanted to offer some encouragement, both me and my comment were both mowed down by calls against systemic racism and perpetual injustices.  While yes, we do need to stand up against these things, I know that I wasn’t wrong in my initial comment.  My friend needed to be reminded of who he is and that he is valued.


There are a few things I’m taking away from this situation:

  1. I need to recognize and acknowledge that some people are going to want to argue, no matter what. They’re always going to be holding up the banners against injustice, against tyranny, against systemic issues, no matter the context or discussion.  We need those people in this world and I need to help those people use their skills in real-life communications.
  2. I have a valuable part in this work. While I am not the up-front talker, I can be the behind-the-scenes person who supports others and I’m just as valuable as they are.  I don’t have to march, protest, or argue all the time – especially if it’s not what I’m good at.  But I should do what I can to help people who are good at those things.
  3. Words of encouragement are always – always – helpful and necessary.

It’s easy to get on social media to call out wrongs and argue away at the issues.  It’s much more difficult to hold our tongues and scroll on by.  I think it would benefit us all if we did the latter, and I think it would be even better if we chose to have those discussions in person.  May God give us patience with one another, may we know when to speak up, and above all else, may we always love and encourage one another.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Not Enough.

This past week I spent a few days at the Mount Carmel Retreat Center in Dallas, partially for my Spirituality class and partially for personal reasons.  The truth is I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’m not ‘enough’ – not good enough, smart enough, lovable or loving enough, wise enough, holy enough, worthy enough, generous enough.  My feelings of ‘not-good-enough’ have kept me at arm’s length from God, from my family and friends, from my schoolwork and relationships because if I’m not ‘enough’ then what’s the point in continuing on with them?

I felt I had to be faultless and flawless before I could go to God, and I had to be the most Christian of Christians in order to maintain the relationship.  I had to be the absolute and ideal son for my parents.  I had to be the unequivocal and unmatchable boyfriend.  I had to be the matchless and impeccable friend.

I’ve burned more than my fair share of bridges because of this feeling of not being enough.  I’ve ended relationships, dropped out of courses, cut off friendships, and tip-toed around God because I didn’t think I was enough.  While I’ve wanted to be married, have close friendships, and a close walk with God, I’ve turned tail and ran because I didn’t think I was able to reach these self-perceived expectations of being ‘enough’.

As I spent these past few days in the silence of the monastery I came to the realization that I am, honestly, not good enough. And I’ll never be good enough.  I’m never going to be the perfect son, boyfriend, or friend.  I’m never going to be the best student, pastor, or Christian.  I’m never going to be the most giving, generous, and kind person.

My not enough is, in fact, enough.

In my journal, I scribbled down this letter to myself:

Seriously, Sheth, God loves you.  You!  Not the impostor, not the poseur, not the image you try to maintain.  God loves you in your broken, faulty, sinful, unkempt, messiness.  God sees through the falsehood (and hopes you will, too) and knows that that Sheth is the true Sheth.  You don’t have to be perfect to receive God’s love.  You don’t have to have everything in order and your life looking pretty.  You don’t have to be enough for God to love you completely.  God loves you, Sheth.

I know it’s difficult to fathom…it’s hard to comprehend…and frankly a little terrifying.  But it’s the truth.  You’ve had moments when you felt it and knew this truth, but you ran away from it because it’s so beyond your knowledge and understanding.  But somehow you can just know it, believe it, and revel in it’s goodness.

Sure, it’s terrifying on one hand to know that God loves you – God who created all, who can destroy all, who is everywhere, every time, always – God loves you.  That’s scary.

But on the other hand it’s comforting to know that God loves you – you…a bit on this earth, a mere blip on the timeline…as small and insignificant as you are, Sheth, God loves you…you!  You!  God knows you and loves you!

Moments will come (probably tomorrow) when you don’t feel loved, when you don’t feel lovable, when you don’t feel like you’re enough for any of it.  Nonetheless, God loves you still.  No matter what you do or how you act or where you go, God will not stop loving you.

Sheth…I hope you can understand this…I mean, truly in your heart of hearts understand this: God loves you.

I’m not enough – and I never will be enough – and that’s okay.  I don’t need to be enough for God to love me.  I don’t need to be enough for my family to love me.  I don’t need to be enough for my girlfriend, my friends, or my professors to love me.  All I need to be is me – the real me, the true me, the not-enough Sheth who will relish the love and affection that is poured on me.

May we know that God loves who we are, where we are, and desires to be with us.  And may we realize each day that our not-enough is enough.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Laugh With Me

I love a good joke. I love sitting around with friends, telling jokes, and getting those laughs that leave us all breathless and crying. I love the way it makes me feel, the way it gives me release from my troubles, the way it can ease my mind for the briefest of moments. I think God knew that this world was going to be difficult and challenging, and our Creator made sure to give us a little something to ease the difficulties.

The truth is that I sometimes forget how precious a laugh can be and how long it can last in my memory. Late nights with friends here in seminary, sitting in the grass, ping-ponging jokes to one another. Christmas nights around the family table, watching my dad and sister-in-law take something small to exaggerated proportions and ending in laughter-tears. Family dinners at Grimo’s, my grandma laughing as my brother and I try to pronounce the Italian dishes. Standing in line at the grocery store and having a good laugh with a stranger about the scandalous cover of People magazine. These small moments have had lasting impressions on me, and have shown me just how valuable this gift is for me…for us.

Maybe I’ve been wearing rose colored glasses, but I always hoped that this world would be a better, kinder, more loving place…with a lot of laughs along the way. But when I turn on the news or scroll through social media, I see more vitriol than I can take. This world is so chaotic – I see and hear more arguments than I ever thought I’d witness in my lifetime.

It’s difficult to find moments where we can laugh, and I think too often we skip over the small moments when we should laugh. I think we’re so stuck in our arguments, so stuck in our minds, so stuck in our positions that we don’t see those moments. If we’re going to make it in this world, we need to laugh. We need to find those funny moments and ride them out together.

May God give us opportunities to have moments of aching bellies, teary-eyes, and loss of breath filled with laughter. May we take the time to laugh, to enjoy this gift we’ve been given, and to make spaces for more laughter in our lives.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Like, Agape.

Apologies up front: I’m sorry this week’s post is short, but I have a ton of papers to write for school.  Maybe next week will be better…

I’m wrestling with what it means to love someone, specifically the agape love which extends to all people, whether family members or distant strangers.  But there’s a contradiction in my delivery. On one hand it’s really easy – I can love everyone around me without question, without reason, without expectation. On the other hand it’s really difficult – I can’t love everyone around me, all the time, without reason.

I fall headlong into agape because I’m called to do so – I believe God desires this from us in this world. We’re called to love the poor, the migrant, the queer; the rich, the patriot, the white; the happy, the injured, the vile.  It’s entirely possible to do this, and I’ve witnessed people who can do it without question.

But I also fall out of agape because I’m human and petty.  I mean, do I really have to love the smelly, the bothersome, the ugly?  Do I have to love the people I don’t get along with, the people I don’t agree with, the people who annoy the hell out of me?  Do I have to love chaotic middle school youth and snotty-Kleenex carrying old people?

As someone who frequently uses the phrase “I don’t have to like them, but I have to love them”, I find myself at an impasse.  Am I truly, completely loving the people I don’t like?  Am I doing as Jesus did those many years ago?  Am I seeing Jesus in the face of these people I love but don’t like? Could I do that to Jesus?  If I can’t love them and like them, should I love at all?

Perhaps this is the point of it all – I can’t do it alone.  I can’t possibly love the people I don’t like without God’s help.  I can’t possibly love the people I do like without God’s help.  Love is difficult – agape, pragma, or philia –it’s all challenging and frustrating at times, and entirely impossible without the help from my Creator.

God help us all to love as you have loved, forgive us when we fail, and give us mounds of grace as we try to figure it all out.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Consumed

Recently, I had a friend complain to me because I didn’t respond to her text message, and I had to be honest in saying that it got lost in the shuffle.  It’s a terrible excuse,but it’s the truth.  I have so many messages coming at me throughout the course of the day that I can read something, tell myself I’ll respond later, and then forget about it.  Because another message from someone else has come in.  And then another one.  And another.

I check Facebook and my three email accounts at least 20times a day.  I have Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Voice, and text messages calling out for me throughout the day.  A ‘ping’ here, a flash there – Sheth! Look at these messages now!  It’s urgent!  If I don’t reply immediately, my phone gently reminds me every 5 minutes that there’s someone awaiting my response.  Sheth! LOOOOOOK!

While this should make me feel important and needed – all these people and apps demanding my attention – it’s to the point that they’re nearly ruling my life.  These little applications have surreptitiously taken over how I live my life…truthfully, I feel like a slave to my phone.

I don’t do much of anything on Facebook.  I’ll post links to my blog, maybe make a humorous observation (they’re humorous to me), or maybe put up a photo of nature or my goofy face. This happens once, maybe twice, a week. The rest of the time I’m scrolling through gobbledygook (I don’t even ‘like’ that many things).  My time spent on other websites and apps consists of roughly the same effort – consuming and being consumed, but not contributing.

I definitely need to scroll through Facebook for the 14thtime today, but I don’t have the time to work on my world religions final.  I can check my burner email address four or five times today, but my schedule is packed to where I can’t possibly read a bit for my bible content exam.

I can reply to text messages and snaps a hundred times today,but I definitely don’t have time to make it to chapel.  I have to browse through r/dankchristianmemes for at least an hour, but I can’t possibly crack open the Bible because I don’t have the time.

How did my priorities flip like this?  When did it become so normal for me to be okay with this little screen taking up a large chunk of my time?  Why am I okay with doing this nonsense day after day?  It’s frustrating and discouraging, and still, I keep going back for more.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I’m half-tempted to delete some of them permanently.  I’m half-tempted to take a break from some of them.  I’m half-tempted to chuck my phone into the creek and walk away from it all.  Why do I do this?  Why do I feel like I need to check, to talk, to respond, to communicate, to consume?

I think it would do me some good to delete a few apps and have less communication points.  It would be useful for me to have less options, less ways, less information to get lost in.  It would be so nice to not have to feel the need to communicate…and look…and take in.  Maybe I should give myself the gift of deletion for Christmas and get rid of the things that are unnecessarily consuming me.

much love. sheth.

Truth: A Lone.

As I was growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s both of my parents held down jobs to raise our family in the unsteady economy.  My mom often worked a normal eight to five job in an office while my dad, a self-employed contractor, had a varying schedule and could be gone for eight hours a day or weeks at a time.  Because of my parents’ work schedules, more often than not my brother and I would arrive to an empty house and had to fend for ourselves with the television as our supervisor.

The six channels we could pull in via the antenna provided my brother and I with more than enough entertainment.  We would watch re-runs of Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., The Greatest American Hero, The Incredible Hulk, and Highway to Heaven.  The main characters were individuals going through life alone while fighting evil corporations, reuniting families, and making a small difference in the world.

As an introvert, I admire these individuals for being the lonesome drifters that they were.  Being alone is attractive to me because I have no one to answer to, I have no one depending on me, I have no one to disappoint me and I won’t disappoint anyone else.  I can go at my own pace, do what I want, and not answer to anyone.  As I grew up, I suppose I took these lessons I saw to heart, and while I didn’t drift too often, I was good at the lonesome part.  I tended to keep to myself and live life alone.

There are times when being alone can become lonely, and there have been more than a few times in my life when I have needed friends or, at the very least, an extra pair of hands to help me.  I needed friends when I was battling depression, when my grandma passed away, and on more than one lonely Friday night.  I needed people when I was leading twenty-two middle and high school students on a youth retreat and when I was discerning my call to seminary.  While it’s one thing to be an introvert, it’s another thing to try to be some ill-conceived lonesome drifter.

While a person can do many things alone, it’s not always the best road to take, and even my T.V. heroes had sidekicks.  Despite my childish thinking, those lonesome drifters always had someone they could lean on, depend on, and they knew that they were not completely alone.   That’s the lesson I should have taken from my hours of viewing: we can’t do things alone and do them well.


I need others.  It’s difficult for me to admit this, but it’s the truth.  I need people to help me with life.  I need people to keep me accountable.  I need people to encourage me.  I need people to challenge me.   Without people around me to prod me on I become still and stagnant, and I begin to deteriorate.  I need people to do life with me and help me become the best me I can be.

We need one another, and there’s no way to make it in this world.  I hope and pray that we all can find our sidekicks, our compadres – the Mark Gordon to our Jonathan Smith.  May God open our eyes, clear our minds, and make room in our hearts for others to join us on this life’s journey.  And may we look for others to join with and make this journey a little less lonesome.

much love. sheth.