Paragraphs on 24

The Presence of the Lord is Here- Byron Cage

I’ve grown a lot over the past three years (at least I hope so). I believe that this is largely a result of the presence God has had in my life. Whether I’m reading the Bible, praying, or listening to the testimony and experiences for others, I’ve had to learn how to be more patient, compassionate, disciplined, and loving. This short statement does fully express the joy I am capable experiencing in the presence of the Lord. Hopefully, it’s importance at the top of this list demonstrates how fundamental this idea is to my being.

One of my points of great arrogance is related to my inherent introversion. Many times I feel as though I don’t need to be around people; I can entertain myself and I will still live a life that I can enjoy. This ideology has been heavily contradicted by my experiences of the last nine months. I’m very thankful for the relationships that I’ve built since I moved back to Boston. One of the big lessons I’ve learned back in the area is that there are some things you can do yourself, some things that are easier with help to accomplish, and some things that you can’t do on your own. Those endeavors can be individual or group-oriented. We all need help to accomplish our goals. We all need help to glorify God to the best of our abilities. Thus, we all need community. I could not be more blessed to be a part of mine.

The passion of an older sibling is that there are many times you don’t get a fair shake in your own household. When I was younger, I thought that my sister was disciplined much lighter than I was for more egregious offenses. Big Dub would always get on me for expressing my dissatisfaction and say, “Don’t worry about your sister’s behavior. Worry about yourself and your behavior.” This was ALWAYS an answer that left me more dissatisfied than when I initially expressed my “grievances.” Independent of who was objectively correct, I’m glad my dad gave me this piece of advice. It was not just advice for the moment but also for the future. Life is inherently unfair and you will come across people who have less integrity, less diligence, and/or less qualifications than yourself. Worrying about these individuals, the opportunities they receive, and the success they have is not only pointless, it is counterproductive. I should be worrying about what I can do to improve my skills and my faith. This can be difficult especially because of the challenges and obstacles I encounter in my own life. I am sometimes tempted to wonder why others don’t have the same challenges that I do. But with this mindset, I miss out on two things: I waste energy that could be spent overcoming difficulties and I fail show to gratitude for the blessings and opportunities that have been provided to me. Knowing that I am inordinately blessed, I have been trying to make more of an effort as of late to instead overcome the challenges and obstacles in the way of my goals.

Don’t Get Captured — Run the Jewels

Not everything I have learned in my short time on Earth has been affirming. In life, there are hard realities that all of us must face and accept if we are to move forward in life. Over the past five years, I have had to come to grips with the idea that the United States is not serious about solving the problem of racism in this country. Specifically, my white brothers and sisters are not serious about tackling the issue of racism. The literal definition of racism involves the acquisition of socioeconomic or governmental privilege as a result of your ethnicity. This very much still exists in America. A country that allows racial gerrymandering and racially adverse voter suppression tactics is not a country that is serious about tackling racism. A country that allows its law enforcement to file false reports about altercations with black men and women without consequence is not a country that is serious about tackling racism. A country that disproportionately locks up people of color for consuming drugs at the same rate as whites is not serious about tackling racism. These are real problems with real cultural impact that have real solutions. A country that’s serious about tackling racism would implement them.

Pretty Black Future — Cyne

The reality of the situation is that black lives don’t matter in the United States. The atrocities of our education system and our criminal justice system reflect this unfortunate truth. Sanity under such circumstances requires understanding the situation and the implications it may have on your daily life. For instance, people will be uncomfortable sitting next to you on the train or walking around you at night. It’s not that I don’t want these realities to be true but it ultimately becomes detrimental to my mental health to get mad at each injustice that I may encounter. To endure is defeating; to fight is overwhelming. The question posed towards every black person in this country is how to balance perseverance and protest in order to most effectively advocate for our humanity. There is no simple answer. There probably isn’t a right one. The effectiveness of all solutions, perfect and imperfect, can only really be measured in terms of how closer we strive towards acceptance of our universal humanity.

You cannot serve both God and money. This is easy to understand. However, when I decided to give 20% of my income this year, I didn’t fully comprehend how much I was putting financial objectives at risk in order to advance both the gospel and causes of social justice. Here are some things I planned on doing this year may not happen as a consequence: trip to Japan, new suit, and a new desktop. While slightly disappointing, I am encouraged with the idea that others are giving more faithfully as a result of speaking about my commitment. Giving of time is also a sacrifice. As previously mentioned, I (over-)value my alone time. As a result, doing service work can sometimes be overwhelming or exhausting. Sometimes I just have the energy in the battery pack to serve at the level I expect of myself. What this means is that as God continues to challenge and push the boundaries of my responsibilities in life, I’ll have to make tough choices on how to spend my time going forward.

Highs 2 Lows — Cise Star and Nujabes

There are thousands of people better at my job than I am. There are millions of Christians living better, more God-honoring lives that I am. Millions of people are in better shape than I am. The point of these comparisons is this: I can be so much better. I can do so much more. But it takes work. Work that you might not want to do after a poor night’s sleep. Work that might be mundane or repetitive. But the change is worth it. Living in Boston for college and now for work as increased my understanding of what greatness truly is and the level of effort that it requires because I am constantly surrounded by brilliant people.

Oftentimes in society, we glorify the frontman. The faces of the cutting edge and the latest trends are seen as celebrities and innovators. But what about those who have decided to work behind the scenes? That’s okay. In fact, depending on your passions, it might be preferable to work behind the scenes as to not draw attention to yourself. There are objectives that will have a positive impact on the people around you that really can only be done in the darkness because these objectives subvert existing and powerful systems. It probably isn’t wise to tackle human trafficking head on but disrupting the points in the pipeline may be preferable and have positive long-term implications. You may not receive the same level of praise and notoriety as someone who conducts rescues but you’ll also avoid unwanted attention while having a similar impact on defeating slavery. Ultimately, what is important is to do the work you feel passionate about and worry about the press and attention you are attracting later.

I define infrastructure as the institutions and tools in your current environment that help aid you towards your success. Church, mentorship, doctors, and gym facilities are all examples of infrastructure that may exist in one’s life. No one can do life alone. There is always something or someone to help you. As a result of our uniqueness, we all require different kinds of infrastructure around us in order to make sure that we can live to the best of our abilities. There should be no illusion that I have lived a life where the infrastructure that I’ve need to approve has been readily obtainable. Doctors, pastors, family members, friends, gyms, and mentors have always been accessible to me when requested. That’s not something granted to everyone and you can see the impact that it has on their lives. Thank you to allow the people who make up the Kevin apparatus. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without you.