Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not-Sketchblog 7: Way Beyond Myself

I make no attempt to hide that I am, indeed, a Christian,
a fact I am quite proud of.
I am not proud of, however, the attitudes associated with most outspoken Christians out there,
and how it has drastically changed the way Christianity is portrayed to the world.
That is why I have this sketchblog.
I want my voice to be louder than theirs.
I will change the way the world sees Christians,
by becoming what a true Christian should be,
not filled with hatred and judgmental behavior,
but rather a force of love more powerful than anything you can imagine.

That out of the way, I first apologize for the week-long silence on the sketchblog.
It's been a harrowing week, to say the least,
and an emotional one at that.
I won't go into the details,
but it nearly caused something I have feared most:
losing all that I am and ever was.

I have always acknowledged that human beings are, by nature,
selfish creatures.
Incredibly selfish.
And it is perhaps the biggest problem I have had to deal with as of late.

As someone who has sworn to love everyone and hate no-one,
and as someone who has always said I would give or do anything for a friend,
even my own life,
I pay a dear price on top of that.
The price is my own energy and my own needs and desires.

During the course of the last year,
the events leading up to this last week have sown seeds of bitterness in my heart,
and as hard as I've tried to fight it,
I found them growing nonetheless,
stronger and stronger each day.
They grew so strong, in fact,
that upon the realization (or rather the subconscious suggestion) that,
though I would give anything for a friend,
while they would only take without giving anything back,
I had finally had enough.
All that I had known and fought for,
all of it,
I suddenly turned away from.
In the course of two days,
I came to the conclusion that since I was always giving and everyone else was always taking,
I should stop giving altogether,
and start thinking of only myself.
At the end of the day,
this thought frightened me deeply.

The very core of who I am is love.
The very principle I have lived by and vowed to live by all my life,
the thing that defines me and sets me apart from the rest of humanity,
is that I love everyone,
without expecting a return.

Yet here I was,
face to face with the person I could be,
my exact opposite,
and someone who would blend in with the rest of the world.
And though it did indeed scare me,
it held a certain appeal.

I'd always been an outcast prior to my college years.
I'd had trouble making friends,
and was often made fun of,
mostly because of what I had mentioned previously:
my sincere love for everyone and everything.

I remember once, in elementary school,
I saw a classmate crush a tiny spider in the hallway.
I immediately began crying for the life of the spider,
and everyone who saw me made fun of me for it.

Fast-forward to Junior High.
A dear friend of mine suddenly stopped speaking to me,
and never told me why.
I confronted her and said that I only had love for her
(meaning agape, the kind of love I previously mentioned, which is unconditional and sacrificial).
Another classmate overheard this exchange,
and all too soon,
rumors began to spread about me.
Nasty, and extremely hurtful ones.
All the while, the friend I had once trusted,
did nothing to defend me.
It was an extremely painful time for me.

It was moments like these that tested my strength and my oath of love.
each time, I forged ahead,
though I had no-one to stand by my side for support.

I find friends all around me,
and I'd like to think it's because of my principle of "all is love."

Yet in my darkest hour,
whispers tell my heart that I am worthless,
and nobody would do what I would do for them,
so I should give up my foolish pursuit of love,
and turn my back on those that would so easily give up on me.

And I found myself lonely,
as with each test before.

I'd reached the edge of my endurance,
drained from a year of giving my all to those who wouldn't sacrifice an inch for me,
and came up empty.

This morning, however,
My parents and I went to Church,
where I heard the sermon that saved who I am,
and brought me back from that darkness that I found enveloping me.

It was a sermon about having a heart like God's.
The bulk of the sermon discussed how humans like to surround ourselves and fill our lives with stuff,
whatever we desire.
(As I said before, humans are naturally selfish.)

The preacher went on to say that,
in order to be a true Christian
(which by definition is a follower of Christ, or one who strives to be Christ-like),
we must empty ourselves like Christ did,
and be filled instead with the call of love,
and the concerns of others.
We must "take the form of a bond-servant."
Serving is why Jesus came and what He did,
and if we want to be Christ-like,
we too must become servants,
often putting aside what is best for ourselves in the concern of what is best for others.

Mark 9:35 says, "If any wants to be first,
he shall be the last of all,
and servant of all."
This basically means that if you want to have a happy life,
you need to stop reaching for what you desire the most,
and become humble,
a servant to others.

This is the complete opposite of what human nature tells us.
We strive for what benefits us most,
what makes us happier,
rarely thinking of what it is that others need.

I, however,
have always strived to live the way nobody else would.
I live to prove people wrong,
and to show them that there is still hope for this world,
and there's a way to fight human nature.

I almost fell from that goal,
and looked failure in the face,
but I have fought it,
and emerged,
bruised and battered all the same,
but victorious.

There is still a long stretch of road ahead,
and I am much more cautious than I was before,
almost running out of trust and hope,
but my love for others remains.

I will still do whatever it takes to help a friend,
often at the sacrifice of my own happiness,
but the problem I face now is much more difficult to solve than anything I have ever faced before.

How do I balance my own love and self-sacrifice
with self-preservation?

How can I keep from being drained of everything I have
by those who only seek their own benefit,
and would tell me otherwise?

It is a long and hard road I face,
but I face it as I have before,
with only God by my side,
only God's understanding of agape to back me up,
and only God to lead me.

This is my warning to my friends:
I will sacrifice for you,
but I ask that you do the same for your own friends,
without asking anything in return,
or expecting anything in return.

Do not take advantage of my love,
because the weight that comes with it has taken me years to learn to support,
and you are not experienced enough to take on the burden.

Try to maintain your friendships,
because they will benefit you in the end.

Don't give up on me,
because I would fight the world just to stay your friend and see you happy.

These are the principles I stand on.

You may not understand them,
but that's what makes me "Me."

I stand alone on this foundation,
but it is strong as diamonds,
and just as beautiful.

I will not settle for being merely "human."

I will show the world this love.
I will show them the hope I have come to see in each person I meet.

Thank you for reading,
and as usual,
thank you for your continued patience as I catch up on sketching.

I love you all,
and hope you have a good night.

Emily J Sampson

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