Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NCFCA and me

Winter 2008, I cared about winning. I mean, I hated CFC because they were all a bunch of snobs who said that "winning doesn't matter" and I always thought "that's easy for you to say, you've never lost." (I was a hypocrite, I had never lost either, but I justified this by saying that they had never lost on a larger scale than I had never lost.) The funny thing is, I didn't care about winning for the trophies, I guess I cared just because I am a selfish, broken human being who wanted to feel better than everybody. Who wanted everybody to look up to me. I wanted to be a snob like what I thought the CFCers were like. I wanted to tell people that winning didn't matter, even though it was the thing I lusted for the most.

Summer 2008, I won. The funny thing is, when I did, all I could think was "I don't deserve this." It was a form of survivors guilt, I knew that I didn't deserve it, I knew that I hadn't practiced enough, or spent enough time looking for a speech, or crying for loosing. I hadn't done any of the things its supposed to take to win, and so I felt guilty, undeserving. I was being humbled, and even though I had the reasons all wrong, the feelings were right.

Fall 2008, by this time I had had more time to think through winning, and I figured out... it didn't matter. This was catastrophic for me, everything I had believed, about CFC, about the whole NCFCA, the way I had listened to all of those speakers, all of it changed, all of it became meaningless. I had figured out that winning didn't matter, and it shattered my world. All of a sudden, on top of not deserving to win, the win didn't matter at all. It was like picking a flower and discovering not only that it has no scent, but also no color. It became something other than a flower.

Early winter 2009, I didn't know what mattered. I had spent to long believing that winning mattered, now that I knew it didn't, I had nothing. I became apathetic, believing that if winning didn't matter, nothing mattered. Ultimately, I went from one form of selfishness to another, unable to notice the transition because I was so wrapped up in the transitioner. I had made a breakthrough... no, I had been humbled by grace, but I didn't know it. All I knew was that all of a sudden, nothing mattered. And so I stopped caring. I stopped caring about winning, I stopped caring about competition, I stopped caring about how my speeches did, if I even did speeches. But one thing I still cared about: myself. And part of that was acceptance. God can use even a selfish motive for good, because it was my desire for acceptance that saved me.

Still early winter 2009, (just a new paragraph). I started making friends. Before, I didn't make friends because I didn't think I needed friends to be accepted. Because I thought that winning was important, I thought that winning would bring me acceptance. I thought that all of those people who were being nice to me were doing so because I had won something, not because they were just nice people. But now, now that nothing mattered, I had to figure out a new way to be accepted. So I started making friends.

FEE 2009, Grace Mullaney. Basically, this was the first time I had ever, ever said what I was really thinking. I think that Grace was basically the perfect person for me to try that out with, because she didn't mind my swearing. Even talking about swearing, or evangelizing, all of a sudden, I realized that I had been thinking things, but had never developed them because I had never verbalized them. All of a sudden I was talking about things as if they mattered, and I didn't know why. I didn't know why Grace, who I knew was a smart person, didn't act as if nothing mattered. She acted as if something did matter, and because she was a real, smart person, I thought that maybe she was right and I was wrong.

Shine 2009, Now, I had gone from believing that winning mattered, to believing that nothing mattered, to believing that something mattered. I started searching. But I didn't apply that search to my life, only to my thoughts. And so I still did stupid things trying to gain acceptance. Because I knew that winning didn't matter, I figured that making a mockery of the final round was justified. I couldn't realize why I felt so bad about it afterwards, because I hadn't yet figured out what mattered and how it effected the way I acted.

Regionals 2009 (or perhaps a bit before), At this point, I had amazing friends. And it felt right, not thinking about myself all the time but actually thinking about my friends. Knowing that they had thoughts that were valuable, even more valuable than the ones that I was thinking. That made a difference, because now, although I was still the center of my universe, I had now realized that I wasn't alone in my universe. That there were other planets out there, planets that I loved. And then...

April 24, 2009, I wrote a blog post called Lever(ed). This was directly after the senior speeches, and this was directly when I "got it." Because, I watched the seniors talk about what mattered. I mean, I really, really listened because they weren't just saying that competition doens't matter. I knew that, I knew they were going to say that. But they kept going, they talked about what does matter. People matter, love matters, truth matters. And while I was listening, I noticed that not only was I not alone in the universe, I wasn't the center. Something as basic as that had escaped me, and now, I had only one choice. I had to stop loving myself and start loving others.

Present, I still screw up. I'm still a broken, self-addicted human being. But I'm trying to stop thinking that I'm all that matters. I'm trying to live for love, live for truth, instead of living for myself. Because, I did that. I lived for me, and all I got out of it was me, and me wasn't enough. There was no satisfaction because it was circular. It didn't give me meaning. Now, I try to live for more. And, really, I have the NCFCA to thank. All of a sudden, Mrs. Moon's cliches aren't something to laugh at. I'm what to laugh at. Because for years, I had heard that people didn't care about me, they cared about how much I cared about them. I had heard that a million times, year after year after year and... I had laughed at it. Somebody was telling me what life was all about, and I had laughed. I had made fun of love. It shouldn't matter how cliched truth is, it's still true. Even if there are a million ways to say it and using the same one is kind of lame, the truth is still there. The truth is that love is what matters. And, I have to live for it.


  1. I can't believe (well, I can believe it, it's right here) that you're able to understand your thoughts, you can analyze how you've changed, or what you live for or lived for. And I wonder if I'm missing anything since it doesn't feel like I'm living for anything in particular...I can't identify anything beyond a vague sort of purpose of glorifying God and finding Truth.

    In any event, I love you and I am extremely thankful that I'm your friend. Which, perhaps, is presumptuous to say, but if I wasn't then at least I know you want me to be. :)

  2. I don't think it's even possible for me as a person to summarize like this. It would take me a book, and the book wouldn't even make sense to anyone except maybe me. I'm glad that you are, though. I really do need other kinds of people to exist. If everyone was like me, then the world would be completely stupid. It was (to use an appropriate cliche) a blessing to read this at a time when I have no response but incoherent emotion. All I can do is cry, but you can speak. This graduate feels outclassed.

    I understand that you don't like to talk about these kind of things in person, it's awkward and whatever. Just know that I will never regret being your friend and I'm so glad that I'll be around to watch you grow some more.

  3. These are the kinds of things I need to read.
    I need to hear other people's stories.
    I need to see change...real actually see it.


    I feel really lucky to have met you when I did; I feel fortunate to know you now.

    (and for this, in this, I am grateful)

  4. I love you, Micah. It seems selfish to say that I can relate, but these same ideas, these same events even it seems have happened to me. Though, perhaps more slowly than it did with you...and you're much better at summarizing. I wont go into my whole story now :P You are changed, and I'm so glad you are :) I echo what others have said. Love matters, people matter, God matters. That's it.