Engineered as a Poet

A poet who is normally an engineer, who is a poet, who is an engineer…

For plan(t)s to grow

Any dream or aspiration that is held tightly with a closed fist will never be realized.
Plans have a lot in common with plants. In order for a thing to grow and come to fruition it needs good soil (you), water (you taking care of you), space to breathe (time where distractions are weeded out), freedom to become not quite what you expected, and time.
Let go of your expectations for what you’ve planned. Acknowledge that they will become part of a much larger pattern, planned not by you. Your dreams and aspirations have more in common with your concepts of logic and math than your other thoughts. They are yours to explore and take pleasure in, but where they intersect reality there is much you cannot control in them.

A Broken Piece

Today I discovered a part of me that is broken.

I care deeply about people, but I’m not interested in knowing them. I don’t care who you are, just what you need from me or what I can learn from you.

I’m a big hearted man who will give and give and give without ever receiving in return, but I can’t say that about showing interest in the things other people talk about. As far as caring about other people’s interests goes, I passed my breaking point. I’ve never had anyone who is both willing and able to give my thoughts and ideas the time of day, while I have no choice but to listen to other people’s interests and ideas. Strong statement for someone who has shared his hurts and issues with half a dozen mentor figures, but I’m not talking about that. I’ve met people who will listen to my pain. I need someone who will listen to my passion. So no, until someone’s willing to be interested in what I’m interested in I actually don’t care what you do, I’m just being polite. In this way, I am broken.

Sadness is not from you.

Sadness is not from you and needs to be rejected.

Sadness creates inaction.

Inaction creates mess.

Mess and inaction stops hospitality.

No hospitality creates loneliness.

Loneliness can be faced without sadness and should be avoided.

A Hypothesis of Anger

A new thought has been forming in my head over the last couple of days. Perhaps I, Darrel, have guessed incorrectly at what my emotions are. Darrel the even keeled, Darrel the secretly pained, Darrel the forgiving, Darrel the happy… all part of a theory that may come tumbling down. The new hypothesis is Darrel the angry, furious, enraged and utterly suppressed.

Let me explain. I was bullied a lot as a kid. I don’t know how much different from public school bullying it was but my bully was my older brother, and we were homeschooled. There was no escaping my tormentor, ever, no home to flee to if he was from school, no school or friends to escape to if he was at home. My parents, bless their souls, somehow didn’t recognize that their third child out of six was being physically abused; my grandparents and neighbors apparently saw it clearly, but not those who could have offered at least a modicum of protection. As you can imagine I was often angry with him, furious even. I tried to control my temper but the hurt would stack up and I would pop in a fit of rage every so often, not very effective rage since I wasn’t nearly as strong as him but rage none the less. But that all changed when I was around eight or nine. My nine year old mind had interpreted Matthew 5:21-22 like this:

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’

Well duh…

22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;

That’s not good… He said everyone, that includes Christians. I guess that after the guilty verdict Jesus must come up and pardon whoever believed in Him.

and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

Oh snap! Christians so guilty that they go to hell?! Looks like we’ve got an unforgivable sin here. Better not call any of my brothers a fool if I want to get into heaven! I haven’t ever said that before; hasn’t crossed my mind even in my angriest moments, so with some care I’ll be fine.

Except that one day while he was bullying me I snapped in a particularly intense fit of rage and screamed two words at my brother: “You fool!!!!”. For me, that was the end. As far as I knew, I had just sentenced myself to hell regardless of how much I begged God for forgiveness and repeated the sinners prayer (which I did countless times after that incident) and I continued to believe that for several years. And as far as I can remember that was the last time I gave free expression to my anger. Believing that your anger has condemned you to hell is a remarkably effective motivator to suppress it. And so I have successfully suppressed my anger for well over a decade now, far beyond point where I don’t even recognize it in myself anymore. For at least the last eight years I’ve had myself utterly convinced that I hold no bitterness, no grudges, no resentment, no unforgiveness, nothing even related to anger. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m wrong about all that.

What should I do now? I don’t know. But I’m still Darrel the optimist, and as such I believe that in time this will all be sorted out.


I ache, I ache with angst
I need a wall to bang my head against
But no, I will stand up and fight
Pull together my wits and write

So, my dear fellow, what troubles you tonight?

The center.
The great I Am.
I want to want him,
But I turned and I ran.
Over again a thousand times more.
Till the devil a million, none me is the score.

What score?
Please explain more.

I turned to Him, to escape my sin
because He was right, and I was wrong
I wanted salvation, and to be in the right
To have less failure and to fight the good fight.
So I accepted his plan.
His plan to redeem me
His plan to conform me
His plan to educate, train and support me.
To learn all the tricks that give satan less access
Build up my defences control my thoughts paths
He keeps me inside the fence
I cross into sin less and less
I know much truth
But among that truth is the fact that
That wasn’t His plan… It was mine.
And so even though I keep from temptation
The devil’s silenced my heart from all meditation.
Thus the score.

Christ’s plan was love, and He followed through.
I am ashamed to say that His love for me is unrequitted.
I sing the songs and I talk the walk, but my heart’s a knot.
He has treated me as a son, giving generously to me and coaching me.
But when he touches my sorrow, my loneliness, the places designed for Him,
The pain floods out and I cower.

Some say that I’m okay,
That this is where I should be.
I’m here, God works things together,
So in principal I agree.
But seriously, I think it’s time to move on.

Then I read this:

Of sorrow and comfort

Not too long ago I watched the movie Inside Out with my wife (yes, a lot has changed since I last wrote, including getting married). For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, sorry you might not understand all of this (also, spoiler alert).

In the movie there is a moment where joy, trying to stop sadness from effecting the protagonist’s memories, draws a circle on the floor and tells sadness to stay inside it so joy can go fix the damage sadness has done and give the protagonist happiness. This obviously doesn’t work, and we have the rest of the movie. In the end, after her attempts to eliminate sadness drove the protagonist to completely shut down her emotions and run away from home, joy willingly gives sadness control, which gets the protagonist to return home and her parents welcome her back and hold her resulting in a core memory with both joy and sadness mixed. I’m twenty-two now, and I have no such thing. You see, a long time ago I figured out that drawing the circle around sadness and telling it to stay is not enough to keep it there. I was disgusted with my own sorrow, so I assigned disgust to keep sadness in the circle. Sadness grows when you trap it though, and so it got big enough to get away and affect me even with disgust guarding it. This made me mad, so I assigned anger to also keep sadness in the circle. This worked for a while, but sadness kept on slowly getting bigger till anger and disgust weren’t enough to keep it at bay. That much sadness scared me, so I also assigned fear to keep sadness in its circle. Throughout the years, this has proven to be a mostly stable solution. As my sadness grows, so does my anger, fear and disgust of it and it very rarely gets out, and when it does I’m able to muscle it back to its place and blur its memories rather quickly. This movie, Inside Out, caused the longest disruption of my setup in years. I was virtually disabled with some serious melancholy for an entire 24 hours.

I’m stable again, sadness is not affecting me and neither is fear, anger or disgust as they’re busy with their assignment. My wife doesn’t like it, and I know that she’s right. I love her and I want to change, but deep down I’m quite comfortable with my emotional setup. Also, I’m scared of what might happen. My wife has demonstrated empathic abilities several times while I’ve known her, and she has sensed my sorrow. It scares her too. The one time I remember ever being truly comforted was with her. But I can’t expect her to be strong enough to comfort me when my ocean of sorrow breaks out as it crushes her too. In fact, it affects her more than it does me, and when it’s been let loose when I’m alone it felt like a more painful and terrifying version of drowning. Definitely not something I’m willing to put her beautiful empathic heart through, or something that she could likely endure if I was willing to put her through it. And so, the only one who could possibly comfort me is God. He has promised to be our comforter, but frankly I don’t believe that anymore. I know it’s probably my fault that I haven’t let Him close enough to comfort me, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. All I can think about when I consider letting go of my emotional control structure is the dozens of times I’ve tried that before while asking God to catch me, to comfort me, and He didn’t. I have no reason to believe it would be any different if I tried again. And if it’s something I did incorrectly about trying to let go, I’m as good as a blind man trying to figure it out. God help me, please.

The first four words of this post are now a lie: it’s been over a month since I wrote the bulk of this. In that time, my wife has proven me wrong about my assessment of her and has held me several times more while I cried myself out (you probably saw that coming). She definitely loves me deeply, and that is comforting. And oddly enough, it also gives me hope that someday I’ll have the courage to be vulnerable with God, and to let Him comfort me.

What do I want?

What do you daydream about? A question posed by a blog claiming that the way to resist temptation is to know what you want: “When we don’t know where we are headed in life, we are vulnerable to temptation.” Entering into reflection, I was shocked to realise that I don’t daydream anymore. I used to daydream all the time, and I still remember what I would imagine. Most of the time, I would construct boyish fantasies of public heroism and humility. But the daydreams that I truly hoped would come true were those where I was never known publicly, but rather privately as a tutor and a mentor leading many young men to Christ and training them to make enormous impact on the world and thus becoming one who changed the world for the better and in return recieved rewarding relationships rather than popularity and praise. This is what I dreamt about before spiritual boot camp began, before I began remembering that I was a hurt and broken individual, that I had buried excruciating pain and coutless tears under layers of walls, that I had cut my heart off from everyone including myself, before God started working on me and showing me things at an unprecidented rate, before I watched God changing lives through simple actions that He taught me, before I left my parent’s house and ventured out on my own, before I saw how the church was meant to be and entered into incredible fellowship, before I befriended a girl and ended up falling in love with her, before that love flourished in dating and produced hopes to become engaged, before I began reflecting on my own failure to love God and respond to His love, before I remembered that I have felt trapped and unable to enter into relationship with God for nearly a decade.

I no longer daydream.

The tears come, then they retreat to their cell. It’s only three hours till my wake up alarm sends me to work probably too tired to think straight.

What do I want?

Caught in a Trap

12:15am 6/6/2014: I just finished watching Inception for the who knows what time. Three days ago, on the 3rd, I talked for four hours with my sister Cara, two about my deepest failure: the failure to love God, despite wanting to. The day before that, I spoke with my girlfriend, Jenna, for three hours about the same topic, breaking down in sobs at the disparity of my situation. Utterly confused and struggling to hope that someday I will have a healthy relationship with the One who made me. I feel like I’m trapped, no, I’m convinced that I am in a trap, a trap much stronger than I am, a trap that has bound my soul in it’s iron-like jaws of despair for nigh on a decade, a trap that has sapped my resolve, drained my initiative, weakened my spirit and left it defenseless before temptation while numbing it to the sorrow and grief that rightly should come with sin. What is the trap? It’s the idea that my soul seems not to care about God. I know how to walk with Him, I have heard His voice countless times but my heart does not rejoice at the sound of it, and neither does it cringe or react in any other discernible way. Every godly and wise voice I hear points to God for the solution, and He is the solution.

The most resilient virus is an idea. “Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that’s fully formed – fully understood – that sticks”. “She had locked something away, something deep inside her. The truth that she had once known, but… she chose to forget. Limbo became her reality.” Like Mal, this inescapable trap has developed and become my reality over the course of my remembered life.

God is the solution, I’m tempted to add sarcasm and say He’s always the solution, in fact I just did. I’m bitter at Him for allowing me to be in this trap, to stay here and have all my struggles to come to Him be fruitless; all my attempts at spiritual discipline quickly run out of steam fall flat on their face. If He would only renew my heart, let it rejoice at the sound of His voice, cause my soul to value a relationship with Him the way it aught to, then I would be free. I cannot count the times I have asked Him for this, prayed, begged, pleaded, wept, mourned over not having this.

Just do it, make yourself read and pray and memorize, then from those disciplines will grow the heart you desire… Bullshit. I’ve heard this message too many times and tried it again and again to no avail, three months straight at one point that brought absolutely no change to this stubborn, unresponsive heart of mine. I’m still willing to try it yet again though, since it’s the closest thing to a solution I have right now and it’ll have to start anyway when the problem actually gets solved

My question is this: Is it possible that I might be like Mal? If so, what is the truth that I have forgotten? What is it that I have locked deep inside of me? If I am this way, who will remind me of the truth? How can one remember something that has been truly forgotten by the mind that experienced it and never noticed by another? Does another know what it is that is locked inside me? And, God, will you please help?

My First Love Poem


Three months we’ve been together, what to me seems like forever,
A forever that I can remember as if it began just last week.
Sitting side by side at Red Robin, who could imagine
The friendship we’ve made and that romance would happen?
Now look how far we’ve come and marvel with me
At the lessons we learned and who we’ve come to be.

The patience and care and trust you give me
Are straight from the hand of our God it seems
Now this is exactly the way things should be
The glory is His, He’s the one who redeems
To truly love you is to be mirroring Jesus
It’s His life in us and I’m grateful we see this

The beauty you hold takes my breath away.
I pray that one of these days, forever we’ll stay.
Together, in love, God has brought us this year.
I’m humbled and honored to know you my dear.
So walk with me now into twenty-fourteen
Where forever we’ll grow and together we’ll dream.

Love, Darrel

Weekly Quote #19

“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.”
-William Booth

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