my joy in obscurity
Last year, when i left my dream job of working at Newsong Church as the guy who gets to do music full-time, i knew there was something else in store for me but i also had an inkling that it woudn’t be exactly what I envision or picture. I had this fantasy that one of my songs I had previously written would get picked up by a major artist, movie or TV show (like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, or Sports Center) and that through the life-time royalties I receive, i’d be able to travel the world with my family and never worry about money in the bank again. Never mind the technicalities of this type of thing; it’s just fun to think about, no?
I guess I got one thing right. Ever since I left my job, I literally haven’t had to worry about money in the bank. I’m experiencing miracles every month by receiving cash from random, unexpected sources while being backed by a group of supporters who believe in us and the life we’re trying to live in Mexico City. Every time I feel a little antsy about money and start getting just a tiny bit stressed about how we’re going to pay for this or that, I am left feeling ashamed a little later for ever doubting. I think God has been trying to drive a point home to me time and time again: my life is in His hands. What a great place to be!
This post, however, is not about money (although I will definitely make future posts on this topic) but rather it is about what I feel we’re really down here in Mexico City for. I had a conversation not too long ago about the whole idea of living overseas and how it seems to be over-dramatized, over-glorified and over-publicized, especially within the church context. Though this may be true at times, what I am experiencing here is rather to the contrary… and I couldn’t be happier.
We talk a lot about how “our identity is not in what we do but in who we are” and never has that saying been tested more than in my time here. I feel that my identity is being shaped constantly through what I feel is a season of obscurity, anonymity and irrelevance. Though this sounds incredibly depressing and sad, I honestly say this with great joy! Over here, I’m not known as the music guy, justice dude, laker fanatic or the whatever guy. I have no label or classification. I’m just DK. I’m one of the guys that show up every day to paint, install dry wall, prime, sand, clean and install fencing at The Well trafficking safehouse or Cafe NEO– our new space in Coyoacan. I’m a family man, doing all I can to love and take care of my pregnant wife and suddenly hyper-active 2 year old kid. I’m a friend, trying my best to support and encourage my other friends here in Mexico City who have been at this for far longer than I have. I’m a flawed human being, in need of constant work on my character.
There is no glitz, glamor, or glory in what we are doing right now. I don’t think extended manual labor was ever in my picture of what we would do down here but it’s been great. It’s actually been… fun.
I think the greatest thing that accounts for this joy and perspective is the end-picture that I see. I am driven by a love and desire to set things up for greater change to take place. Though it might be way more fun to report back with stories of busting up sex trafficking rings and child rescues with guns a blazing, for now I am humbled and honored that I get to set up and build the safehouse where these girls will find healing. I find “glory” in being the best human being and agent of change I can be without the evening news doing a special on our work or people tweeting about me. I find great satisfaction in being a more-than available husband and father to my wife and kid.
I read a Malcolm Gladwell book that included a quote which I will paraphrase: “hard work is a prison sentence only when it lacks meaning.” How very true. I can take joy and pleasure in whatever it is I do because I find great meaning in the labor. We are building towards life-transformation and a better future. I’m honored to be a part of a process that also helps shape me.
I will admit though that at times this road has felt lonely and it hasn’t been an easy journey. There have been times where I have felt ignored or misunderstood in times of my greatest need and darkness, as well as in times of some great joys. Any time you’re a part of something that requires a pioneering spirit of sorts, it is easy to get into seasons of feeling alone and isolated. Thank God that this isn’t necessarily true!
Francis Chan is a very respected leader around the world and he recently made a decision to step down from a major position of influence to seek out what may be next for him and his family. His decision was met by a great deal of scrutiny as well as support from around the country. It seems many are waiting to see what becomes of him. In one of the interviews I watched, he mentioned something about his impression that perhaps God was calling him into a season/life of greater obscurity. Meaning, he would become “less-famous” in the name of serving in a more quiet capacity, doing what he feels is needed in the greater Kingdom picture. I love that and it has definitely given more validity to the things I’m experiencing and learning right now.
I still have a ways to go in my own journey of the heart. I never want to share these things as an expert or as a person who has arrived in this mode of living or thinking. I never want to discount the many beautiful things that are going on around the world and especially back home in the States. I am not a critic of fame nor am i cynical of those who operate over very large platforms and audiences. I believe these are actually gifts, and when employed with love and humility, I believe that “relevance” in terms of being “popular” can be a very good and powerful thing.
For now, I am grateful for the things I get to do every day– things that are very normal, sometimes-tedious, and un-celebrated. It is a privilege to be here in Mexico City. It is an honor to be a husband to Sadie and a dad to Micah. I relish the challenge of being a good friend and neighbor. I am thankful to be a fighter of freedom for those exploited against their will.
thank you for reading! this is part of me, in the flesh…