me (likely more than you want to know)


. . .  but sometimes you get what you need. (the Rolling Stones)

Sometimes I do what I want, other times; I do what I must. (Gladitor)

I have been thinking along these lines a lot over the past few months, and some of it was brought to a head today in a way that would probably be unusual for most people.

As we all do in many areas of life, I have spent the majority of my life in one particular area doing what I must, rather than what I want. And it is not an area where what I want to do is inherently bad (in someways I think it would be quite positive), but I have had to bend my personal will to that of the various entities and people to which I am held responsible. In many ways, this has been a very good growth process for me throughout the years, sometimes a growth process and/or amusement for others, but overall a sanctifying experience for me.

It seems as though whenever I begin to get to point where it can move to situation in which I am free to do what I want, it is either derailed or turns out to not quite be as conducive of a situation as I had thought it was, which then shifts it back into that growth process of bending my will to that of others. What can be frustrating about this is that it does hinder my ability to accurately represent myself (which I very much try to do and has probably caused me to miss a few ministry opportunities since I want to show who I am rather than put up a front, since everyone does that, so most people front extensively).

And then, a a few months into the sanctification process, we came to a ministry that not only allowed but encouraged being comfortable with who you are. As this came more and more together, I slowly grew into doing this thing in a way that reflected who I am, though it is by nature a slow process, as most similar things are.

But then that ministry fell apart. Being my stubborn self, I tried to hold on to what should have been there and continued to seek these ideals, never really admitting that it was gone . As my life was transitioning away from this, I had a few opportunities and necessities of doing what was needed rather than wanted, but I refused to admit that the dream had faded, so I complied in only the most limited sense of the term. There was also a lot going on at that exact moment in time, so I think there was much more grace extended toward me by various people than may have normally occurred (though the lasting effect worked more toward my preference in the long run).

So then moving forward again a few months, there has been progression in most areas toward restoring the parts of our lives had been derailed, but there were still some areas where I was stubbornly holding on to the dream. In order to move back to where we were before, my wife and I have been making some decisions we have not necessarily preferred, but they are the best options for the time being. Temporary discomfort/misery is worth the trade-off of a more comfortable/less miserable/more beneficial future. One of these choices was in this realm.

I have seem that I am a unique person. Things that affect and reflect me do not necessarily do the same things for the average person. But I also tend to think through things (particularly unusual things) more thoroughly than average.

I have a good friend in atypical ministry who also thinks through things, much more thoroughly than I do. He made a related decision a few years ago and has unfortunately had to continue much longer than preferred. Thinking about his choice tonight made me thinking about mine. I had not made mine with the same initial intention as he had, though I believe the pieces were there in such a way that it lead me to make the choice that I did, just not putting them together in the finished product until later.

Though it may seem petty, foolish, unattainable, trite, selfish, pointless to many, I have long had an atypical desire, especially for someone in my chosen life-path, even more particular in the fact that I hold it so strongly. Part of it stems from a personal preference, part of it stems from a desire to help some who are very much in need in a way not often seen by someone in my position/field, part of it from a desire to best reflect myself in how I am presented to others, and part of it is simply a desire to do these things while I have the ability. Since I was very young, I have wanted to grow my hair out to the point that I could donate it to make a wig for a kids dealing with cancer. I have not yet been able to do this, largely as a result of schools/jobs/etc not allowing me to get my hair to that point.

This last ministry was heading in that direction, but it did fail. The ministry situation which I hope to help develop would allow, embrace, and probably enable this, but that will take a while to get to the point where I am able to fully focus my attentions there (provided it happens at all). In the meantime, the work situation (which I love) is moving in a direction in which it would not be conducive to do so (yes, it was mentioned to me, and although it is not what I prefer, I do agree with the reason and the probable necessity).

This time, instead of barely skirting the boundaries of acceptability, I decided to go for what amounts to an incredibly drastic step for me, comparable to most guys shaving their head. Granted, it still reflects me while taking these factors into account, it is still not fully me. The amazing thing was that whenever I have done things like this in the past, I had felt like I was betraying not only myself, but some of my core beliefs (all people need to be accepted as they are by churches/ministries; use what God has given you to bless those in need; God uses us for who we are; be creative in blessing/ministering to others; diversity in non-moral issues should be encouraged; etc).

This time, it felt like the right thing to do. I was getting a bit fed up with the way my hair was, largely because I kept getting it almost to the point that it would begin to head toward the desired length before having to start all over again. This time, it will be quite a process.

I had earlier mentioned my friend and his interesting commitment. After getting burned again by a church, he decided that he would not cut his hair until he was comfortable and accepted in a church again. It has been almost 5 years, and though he does ministry and is highly involved in his church, he has not gotten a haircut (I doubt anyone reading this knows this friend, but is was a commitment just between him and God that he shared with me as he was helping me work through some of the ramifications of this past summer).

I have decided that I will be making a similar, though opposite, commitment. Once I am comfortable in a ministry again, whether voluntary or paid; typical or atypical, I will be keeping my hair short. (Short for me, anyway; I will likely only get a couple trims a year still). Once I get in this ministry situation, I will begin to make a solid effort to grow my hair out again, like the Nazarites or various warrior cultures of old. By the time it gets to an appropriate length, enough time should have passed to be fully ingrained in that ministry.

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I would prefer to be the type of man that uses things that can be found on places such as shaveblog.com, but at the time i am writing this i do not have the time or money to put into finding out the best system to get a babyface (especially since i dont shave all of my face).

Ideally, one would use a brush, shaving soap (and mug), and a safety or straight razor. I am not quite there yet.

Step 1 – preparing the face. take a shower (this will help soften the hair). Get a wet warm-hot (they say not to use hot, but i like hot b/c it seems to work the best for me). I usually do this while preparing the second step.

Step 2 – apply the shaving soap. I do not use creams, foams, gels, etc b/c they dont work nearly as well. and they are more expensive in the long run. Getting set up for this part can be a bit more pricey at first, but is definitely worth it to avoid the pain and save some money over time. Get a brush and soap. a decent low-end brush will run around $40; soap around $5-10. “Pure” badger hair is the cheapest of the badger hair varieties (which you want). even getting a cheapo ($5) brush from wally world is better than using spray cream or gel, though it is far from the real experience. Run hot water over the brush, then swirl it on the soap to pick up the soap. Lather the soap on your face (i use a swirling motion) to build up a thick lather. it does not take much soap to do this (my last bar has lasted about 4 years, but i only shave 1-2 times a week and only part of my face).

Step 3 – shave. Ideally, this would be a safety razor or straight razor, but the skill and money required are often prohibitive. Instead, one wants to get a razor with as few blades as possible. 1 blade is preferred, but 2 is acceptable (often the singles are incredible poorly made or hard to find). 3, 4, 5 blades will cause your skin to pull burn, and will actually be less effective then the lower-tech (and less expensive) alternatives. I believe the ones i currently use were one of the more expensive options that fit the qualifications and cost around $3.50 for 5 (2-blade b/c i couldn’t find 1-blade). Don’t worry about a “lubrication strip” or swivel head, and these bring up the cost and don’t’ really help since you are wet-shaving. If you did steps 1-2 correctly, you will probably only have to go over your face once, maybe twice (since i have a beard, some areas are maybe more since i have to make it mostly straight).

Step3 – cleanup. Wipe off face, rinse and dry razor (keeps it from rusting), wash out brush – shake dry and hang point down (if possible; or stand on base), use aftershave.

When I was younger, I used to think of myself as someone who was weird, which I enjoyed. Then, in college, I had a friend who clarified it as being more “quirky,” which I think was a valid characterization. Although I enjoy things like sci-fi and video games, I still function in society. I don’t (regularly) have people avoid me for no apparent reason. I don’t sit in a chair and rock back and forth for no reason.

Some of the quirks are fairly random and somewhat comical:

I hate socks, but I can’t wear shoes without socks, so I usually wear sandals whenever safe (and high-quality ones at that: Chacos, usually Z2s). I have even worn sandals with a suit on occasions (though that was slightly to tweak some brittle people – another quirk/character flaw: I sometimes do things just to see how people respond. Sometimes it is for spiritual reasons, but usually just my entertainment). If I have to wear shoes, I will usually opt for hiking boots, although recently my boots fell apart to the point of no return, so it has been other shoes 😦

I hate to spend very much money on clothing and will basically only shop sales. The only time I buy clothes that cost more than 50% of the original price is if I HAVE to have it 9like work related). I have been using the same pair of jeans for motorcycling since I was in middle school (yes, I was chunky then too). But my camping gear must be top notch and I spend way more money there than I should, especially backpacks.

If I have a bad experience with a product or store one time, it is very likely that I will no longer give them my business, even if it was a fluke or the company has since improved. The bigger factor is usually not as much what happens, but how the company handles it (ie – Magnavox, Motorola, Wal-Green’s, Hyundai, ATT, Sprint).

I love people, but they drive me crazy sometimes. I need an evening or afternoon of personal space about once a week to keep from getting edgy. Even from my wife (I am really blessed that she puts up with me, which will be even more apparent as you continue reading).

When I read, I don’t always read the words or sentences in order, sometimes even 2 or 3 lines at a time, but they come together in the proper order in my mind. I end up being a very fast reader, although it often appears I am dyslexic when reading aloud. This, combined with the fact that I can remember concepts better than words, is likely why I have problems remembering vocabulary in other languages (even though I am a bit erudite in English), but once I have it down, I can usually read it relatively easily, though not always precisely.

If I am learning something new, I would prefer to read or converse about it. I can barely stand watching a video or listening to a lecture. I think it may be because I can neither speed it up or interact with it. I think this is why I am better at doing interactive teaching/discussion rather than preaching/lecture and why I tend to be on the brief side, unless I have interaction. This is also why I tend to take a lot of notes when I think it is something worthwhile. I have gotten better at it, but I used to view something in writing as being solid and reliable, but something spoken as being indefinite.

The worst set of quirks that I have involves sleep. This is the area that drives me nuts, and my wife as well, since she can generally fall to sleep in about 10 minutes basically anywhere, anytime:

I sleep much better in Colorado than anywhere else, probably due to the lack of humidity and thin air. I generally sleep better in the mountains than the plains, even if it is on the ground.

Regardless of when exactly the sun goes down, I get very tired from about 30 minutes before and until about 30 after the sun goes down. I then get a second wind. This is less severe in the summer and/or if I am able to watch the sunset against the mountains.

If I am woken up unexpectedly, I generally snap awake in about 3-5 seconds and can function normally for a few minutes. If I can fall back asleep in 5 minutes or less, there is a good chance I won’t even notice, but if I stay awake my functioning will be diminished but I will not be able to fall back asleep for several hours. Unless some actually has happened, in which case my adrenaline is usually pumping. I think I developed this when working at camp, particularly from dealing with bears consistently, and from being an RA and dealing with morons consistently.

About once every 1-3 weeks, I have a night were I cannot sleep hardly at all (as little as an hour or two), but am able to get up and function normally the following day. Sometimes I am a bit extra tired the next night, but usually not.

I cannot sleep in the car or during the daytime unless I am completely exhausted. I was done with naps when I was two. While I was in college or working at camp was the only time I could ever take naps, and that was because I was busy about 16 hours a day and rarely got more that 5 hours of sleep. It was more likely that I would make it through the week and then sleep 10-12 hours on my day off to catch up.

I normally go to bed around midnight and wake up around 7, though it can range an hour either way on either end. If I try to go to bed any earlier, unless I am completely exhausted to the point I am about to fall over, I will wake up in 1-3 hours and not be able to fall asleep again till about 5am regardless of how tired I am. I generally can only catch up on sleep by sleeping in, not by going to bed early. The cool thing is that I can typically wake up early for a trip, etc. without to much of a problem or needing extra sleep later, provided I am not already exhausted.

I have a fairly set procedure that I have to follow in order to fall asleep and stay asleep all (or even most of the) night:
First, I have to take a shower within 3-4 hours of going to sleep, closer is better (but not too close). I cannot sleep if I feel dirty.

I then have to relax without really thinking much for 30 minutes or more (sometimes an hour or two), generally by watching tv (which started when I was in HS). If I go too long, I sometimes end up not being able to fall asleep. Sitcoms or mild sci-fi (like Star trek) tend to work best. If I read something, I tend to get way too into it and then stay up really late.

After relaxing, I can go to bed, but the blankets must be neat and crisp, the room must be very dark and quiet, otherwise it drives me crazy and I end up not being able to fall asleep. Once I get past the tv stage, if I do anything to mentally involved, I will be up all night. Talking, loud noise, deep thinking, really anything.

If something messes up this process, then I will become wide awake and not fall asleep again till 3-5am, regardless of what I try, even though I am usually completely exhausted. The most successful way is to start the process again (shower, tv, etc), but I generally avoid it at first since it means investing at least an hour, maybe two (takes more relaxing the second time around). Even then, it will sometimes not help. I will be watching tv about to crash, go back to bed and be wide awake.

Because of this ridiculousness, I am usually up an hour or so later than my wife, which happens to help me fall asleep better (since she likes to talk and then fall asleep, which gets my brain going again).

Aside from all of this, I have to be careful to not eat, drink caffeine, play sports or be very active, or even have meetings within a couple of hours of going to bed since my brain/body will be going to much in order to go to sleep. Even having a church event that is done around 9 will throw me off.

The worst part about all of this is that I understand better than anyone how ridiculous and obnoxious all of this is, but I have not yet been able to change it (the second worst part is that as the more tired I am, the more grumpy I am and the harder it is to fall asleep). Maybe “weird” is a better term. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife who puts up with my crazies and tries to help out in anyway she can, even though it frustrates her as much as me.

I decided to go with this name since I am currently a driving instructor and I get used to driving with a brake on my side. When I then ride with someone in a regular car, I have a tendency to try to use the brake that I am used to having on my side, which is not there. And it is with very good drivers, too. Like my wife (who has had several jobs involving driving) or my dad (who has been a firefighter for almost 25 years, including almost 20 as an engineer).

I think it probably means that I think I am a better driver than everyone else, and probably think I am a better driver than I actually am.

Or that I am one of those people who always has to be teaching something, which is not always a good thing, especially if the person being taught is an unwilling student.

There is probably some deeper philosophical/spiritual reason for choosing this title as well, maybe some insight into how people are in general, but I don’t want to be one of those people. Or maybe I do. You can decide.