Travel and Date People Who Travel

So, recently I encountered a pair of articles, Date a Boy Who Travels and Don’t Date A Girl Who Travels, which gave me pause and a fair amount of confusion. Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels seems to have been written, at least partially, in response to or in knowledge of Date a Boy Who Travels, and provides a link to the blog. After reading both blogs, I had to send them on to a friend to double check and make sure that I wasn’t going crazy by my interpretation. If you didn’t catch by the juxtaposition, there’s a severe conflict being presented as to relational potential/value when a gender travels.

I get that the main purpose of the articles seems to have been aimed at saying, “Traveling makes you awesome and independent and is a wonderful thing that you should totally take time to do,” however, there was a second message in the article that twists that first bit and gets really distracting. Before I continue, I’d like to make it clear, neither men nor women are in anyway obligated to be in romantic relationships, nor do they require said relationships in order to be fulfilled, happy, or worthwhile. That being said, the message I got from Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels was that traveling makes women independent, self-sufficient, strong, deep, mature, capable, adventurous, creative, opinionated, and possessing of a strong sense of self, and that desiring women with those traits is a bad and fruitless endeavor. I call shenanigans. But I’m not finished, because Date a Boy Who Travels is almost as bad. Travel with your man, so that he can teach you independence (you didn’t learn it for yourself, he had to bring you into it), and he will be the one to provide and lead and initiate. Eventually you may go out on your own, but it’s because he inspired you to it. Don’t commit to your dreams (even if they don’t involve traveling), go and follow his desire to travel and make his dreams your own. No… hell no. Ladies and gentlemen, the 50’s are over and June Cleaver is dead. I will give the end of Boy Who Travels (from here on out, let’s refer to Boy Who Travels as BWT and Don’t Girl Who Travels as DGWT because we’re going to be talking about them a lot) its due and mention that they allow that should you not find a man who travels, you should go do it anyways, but only after waxing poetic about how it’s so wonderful to find joy together in traveling. So, let’s just call this what it is: sexist. It may not have been intentional, but still, come on!

I’ve met a lot of single women traveling on their own, enjoying their lives, setting and meeting goals, having adventures, and just generally being awesome. The vast majority of them aren’t in a dating relationship, and that’s ok, because they don’t need to be. That being said, the girl mentioned in DGWT is one of the most dateable women I’ve ever heard described, and all of that independent, self-sufficient, strong, deep, mature, capable, adventurous, creative, opinionated, and possessing of a strong sense of self stuff is super attractive. It may just be that I’m not some stuffed shirt with an overinflated sense of self-importance, but I’m quite glad that this woman looks for more than a fancy watch and a nice car, and would be willing to go rock climbing, hiking, and exploring. That sounds like a healthy woman with a good sense of what she wants in a partner and a good sense of how people have value. I find it really frustrating that these two articles, however unintentional, have created such an unrealistic and unhelpful dichotomy. Lots of the same qualities (for example a preference for substance rather than style in a partner) are mentioned in these two articles, but the expressions of those qualities and the desirability of those qualities seems to go the opposite direction, desirable in a man, but rendering a woman undateable. Why should independence, creativity, depth, and self-sufficiency make a woman unattractive or make her difficult to date? Do we live in a society where men are the only ones allowed to hold those qualities and also be able to find a partner, should they want one? Last I checked, women are human beings too, and equally worthwhile. The presence of intelligence and independence and self-sufficiency should not mitigate any of these things!

Also, while we’re on the topic, I think the author underestimates the flexibility and capability of someone who has learned to enjoy the simple things with the grand things, and who has made their life one filled with travel and adventure. These are dynamic people being talked about here, not a type that’s stuck on mountain tops with their heads in the clouds. Chances are, a woman who travels can hold a steady job and be far more responsible than most in that job. You kind of have to be responsible if you are going to do your best to eat, see all the things that you want to see on a one week pass through a part of southeast asia, avoid getting sick, injured, or robbed, and maybe sleep a little between airports. Also, a college degree is never wasted if it is learned well. They may not be in the field they went to school for, but chances are a woman so intelligent, independent, creative, and strong will have found ways to apply some of the lessons she learned in college to whatever she’s doing now, be it for money or for self-edification. There is also a huge difference between transience and uncertainty. She knows what she wants to do, she’s just flexible on the when, and she’s learned far more than surfing not being the most important thing; she’s a woman, not an idiot. Then wow, hot damn! She’s a woman who has her own opinion, isn’t afraid to voice it, knows how to take care of herself, and doesn’t have to impress other people to see value in herself? Duck and cover! The horsemen of the apocalypse ride! I’m just going to assume this article was written addressing the same self-interested douche-bag who thinks flawless skin is a reasonable ideal, thinks that expensive watches, new cars, and stories about his “manly” exploits are things that have or create value in a person, and would rather gripe about some stupid job rather than talk philosophy, politics, and the deep things of life. (As a guy, I’m kind of offended by that portrayal) The person who you shouldn’t date is the kind of person who’d have a problem with the woman who travels.

Now, to change tracks a bit: I may be a guy, but I’ve had people be bug-eyed and unhappy at me for all the traveling I have done, am doing, and will do. I’ve sat in a job dreaming of more because I knew I could do more, but I still did that job well, because one thing I’ve learned from traveling is that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, because you might not get a chance to do it again. When I read that article, I identified rather strongly with the woman who travels. I’d imagine women are equally capable of learning and understanding that things worth doing are worth doing well, but of course, I’m not a woman and vaginas could potentially be brain-eating monsters, so correct me if I’m wrong.

Women are perfectly capable of traveling on their own and doing a damned good job of it, and they don’t need a man to lead them into it (BWT, I’m looking at you), nor do they need a man to live life happily and well. Furthermore, it is good for women to be independent, holding their own opinions, self sufficient, deep, mature, and adventurous, whether they want to date or not. However, should they decide to date, good on them, they’re attractive and quite dateable for real human beings.

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TL;DR – Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels was clearly written to a self-absorbed idiot with an overinflated sense of their own importance, because women who are able to take care of themselves, know what they want, and go after it are worthwhile human beings that are quite desirable and capable of dating, should they want to; Date a Boy Who Travels thinks traveling is great and instills a lot of positive qualities in people, but must have been written with strong influence from the 50’s because the woman being addressed sounds like she has very few plans or motivations of her own and is only encouraged to go find her own should she not find a man of her own. Protip – Women are people too, and it’s cool that they do their own stuff.

Good is Not Dead

Aside

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of humanity. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.” John 1:1-5

It is so incredibly tempting to see the bad in people, in life, in existence, and to throw it out. Listening to the news, reading the things that people write, and hearing the things that people say, it is so entirely easy to say that the world is a fully depraved thing without a glimmer of hope and life within it. When I was young, I was taught to see the world in this way: no good things, no good ideas, no good impulses, no good actions can come from people. However, the more I have encountered people, ideas, history, art, and even pop culture (in spite of how infuriating it can be most of the time), the more I see people screaming out for more, for better, for good. I have met genuinely wonderful people from many walks of life and many systems of belief, and though I have not met them all I expect to meet many more.

When I went to college, I learned of a concept known as the Image of God, or in technical terms, the Imago Dei. The idea was that even though the Image of God in which we were made was corrupted, it was not entirely removed from us, and that some good remains. This remaining good is sometimes referred to by Wesleyan theologians as prevenient grace, the grace that enables us to encounter God. There are a great many people, ideas, and things that are capable of being redeemed. There is light and good in the world that cannot be silenced. The impulses for good that humanity shows are all around us. For all of the stories of war and death and betrayal, we have stories of helping hands, random anonymous kindnesses, voices calling out against the darkness, and people that fight against it. I’ve always struggled with the habit of giving up hope and wanting to throw in the towel and say that it isn’t worth it. People, institutions, and the like just aren’t worth the trouble. But, in spite of the weight of human history, in spite of the bad, goodness has continued and will continue, and rather than seeing the world and the things in it as something to be thrown away, there is so much good in the world that can be used.

If I were to summarize that idea, it would be in this quote from Dr. Who, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things… The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

We live in a world worth living in and worth fighting for. So, this is me passing on the little reminder that I received today.

Turkeys, Mangers, and Santas! Oh my!

Goodness, the time has flown by quite quickly these past few weeks! I’m still trying to grasp that it’s less than a week until Christmas. As far as my internal clock is concerned, I’m still in early December. Needless to say, time has gotten away from me. Living among Koreans and ex-pats during the holidays has been interesting and fun. As part of the curriculum at CFLEC we take the time to teach our students about the foreign holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) that are happening around the time that we have them at our school. So, I’ve gotten to dress up as Batman and now Santa Claus (St. Nicholas, one of the most hardcore saints in the history of the Church, with a penchant for punching heretics and caring for the poor) over the past few months (sadly, no Thanksgiving turkey outfits, so I’ve had to make up for it in attitude).

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Thankfully I have a wonderful family here to celebrate the holidays, so we’ve had a Thanksgiving dinner, two Christmas dinners, and we still haven’t even finished the Christmas celebrations yet. There are some family friends from Germany that are now stationed at the Army base just north of Cheonan and I’ve gotten to see them several times (and eat American food on base! Woo!) and enjoy the company that they bring (plus it’s like having yet another set of adoptive parents). There are many wonderful people here and I’m glad that I’m able to spend the holidays with them. Soon we’ll be going ice skating (they will, my tailbone can’t take the abuse that ice skating tends to dish out) up in Seoul and having even more Christmas related fun.

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This picture is from the games we were playing after the Thanksgiving dinner.

So, fun facts about Christmas in Korea. In Korea, it’s only been a nationwide holiday (where everyone gets off work) for about 2 years. It’s generally considered to be a holiday that is celebrated only by Christians and couples, and has no real cultural relevance to everyone else. Korea is a little obsessed with the whole couples thing, and Christmas has become one of the many holidays where that is emphasized. However, for all of the Koreans who are single, they have the option of saying, “I’m spending Christmas with Kevin.” This is in reference to the movie Home Alone, which is apparently a Korean holiday classic that is shown every Christmas, and many other holidays besides. Funny what things tend to become popular across cultures.

In other news, I also have recently been able to take a day trip to the south-eastern coast of Korea at Busan, and that was very neat. Apparently the world’s largest department store is there (Yes, I got some pictures of it thanks to sneaking up the elevator of a hotel right across the street) and there are a lot of neat museums and other stuff. I was only there for about a day, so I didn’t get to see too terribly much, but enough to know that I want to come back and do some hiking and see some more museums. If you want to see the pictures from that, check the end of this album: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153227621700534.1073741828.668415533&type=1&l=fccfb14d55

I’ve also been given the allowance to grow a beard until Christmas, so I am taking full advantage of that!

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Anyways, life is going well and I’m still enjoying Korea! I love all of you very much and Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! (Now here’s a picture of Korea in the winter)

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Shift

I recently read an article (http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-to-love-someone-with-depression/) that has helped me to continue to gain insight into myself, my life, and thoughts on how to “move on” from previous failures and shortcomings. In particular, this quote stuck out to me, “This is because my depression completely changed my entire outlook on life, and it changed who I was as a person.” After having lost my job and leaving the ministry I went through what is to date, the most severe period of depression I’ve gone through thus far. I locked myself away in my apartment (which was the only tie I still had to that town) and it became my prison cell. As I mentioned before, it got so bad that I very nearly committed suicide, but some final reserve of self-preservation saved me from putting a bullet through my own head.  Even after leaving that town and getting resettled in OKC, I wasn’t entirely out of the woods. I then had to learn how to endure an employment situation that was not always financially stable (to date, living from paycheck to paycheck has been one of the most terrifying experiences of my life) and was not always particularly rewarding. While I’m finally working in a job that is meeting so many of my goals (teaching, living abroad, financially stable, worthwhile experience that can help me find work in other places abroad), I’m still finding places that are damaged. I’ve recently discovered the severity of just how much I lack a sense of hopeful future, in spite of all of the good that I am encountering right now. It has certainly given me a new appreciation for the struggle between the head and the heart.

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I used to think that the head and the heart only disagreed on matters of love and passion, but I’ve found that irrational fear, unreasonable sadness, and numbing apathy provide just as much conflict with a rational mind if we speak of the heart as the seat of our emotions. (Fun fact: In ancient middle eastern cultures, the bowels were considered the seat of our emotions, so many words from those languages have ties to their words for guts, and may very well be why when someone does an act of particular fortitude or bravery, we still say that the person has “a lot of guts”). Mentally, I know that I shouldn’t be afraid, angry, sad, or so entirely apathetic in those times of instability, but I keep right on feeling when I shouldn’t and not feeling when I ought to. I send constant messages to myself saying, “Hey you! Come on! Get it together!” but instead I spend an hour on the floor hugging the backpack that I’m supposed to be using to carry my stuff out to the coffee shop so I can work. (Note: backpacks are not good huggers, they are too clingy and just kind of hang there. *rimshot*)

Fear has been a big struggle recently in part due to that lack of hopeful future. I’ve made some tentative contacts with a master’s program and have received very positive responses, but I have yet to apply. Even though this degree would set me up very well for what I want to do with my future, the things I want to be doing with my future (full-time professor of Theology and Church History) might be going extinct (due to the advent and increasing popularity of online classes and now open online classes that are offered for little to no money – this is excellent as far as educational accessibility is concerned, but bad for me if I expect to feed myself as a professor and am getting a degree geared towards that purpose). Furthermore, churches and I still aren’t on the best of terms. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have found a good church home in OKC and to now be participating in a fledgling house church of ex-pats here in Korea, but in general the idea of attending a church holds very little attraction, interest, or concept of benefit (to any party involved) for me. Realistically, if I want to work as a professor of theology, that’s going to need to change, but even if it does, the position for which I am attempting to educate myself may not exist.

Honestly, I don’t know what else I would do with my life. I need to eat, have a roof over my head, and realistically be capable of providing for the well-being of others, but I’d like to be able to attempt to do so with some hope of enjoying myself as I work. What else would a master’s degree in theology and research be good for? How would I feed myself, much less a family with that? This is one of the few things in which I’m genuinely competent and enjoy, but there isn’t a likely future in which I can be reasonably reliable for the well-being of others much less myself. I realize that this is the reality that many people face, but what point is there in a continued existence? Existence for the sake of existence seems rather pointless. Eat, work, sleep, repeat until you die; even though we’re not meant for the history books, there’s got to be more than human existence than a cycle without destination. If that’s all I have to look forward to in the future, euthanize me now, please. So yeah, that whole lack of vision for a hopeful future. I don’t function particularly well in an economy and society where I expected to make and push product (even in jobs that are supposedly “people oriented”) rather than develop people and help them to do, think, and be better in their relationships with themselves and others.

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There is some semblance of hope though. For whatever reason, God is the reason I wake up in the morning. There is a future. I can’t see it, and I can’t see what is likely for me. Honestly, I’d say this makes a fair amount of sense given that I didn’t realize until recently how much I still had left to rebuild. So, I can only assume that at some point I’ll find another high place where I can get a vague sense of where I’m going to head in the event that the current plan fails. So, here’s to the day where I will rediscover that I feel hope when I use the future tense.

Seoraksan and Life in General

Yes, yes, I’m still living. Sorry that this has taken so long. As it turns out, Halloween isn’t celebrated in Korea… except by all of the Western ex-pats in Korea and in the English classroom where you get to impart culture along with language. This means I have been a bit busy with both teaching and social life. So, here comes the Andrew-update.

Three weeks ago I went to go see Seoraksan National Park (I think that’s what it’s called) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful place to go hiking and camping. It is in the Northeast side of Korea (right on the border with North Korea, you can see across the border from Seorak Mountain) and is gorgeous in the fall. Fall has been a little late this year, so most of the color change was still restricted to the higher regions. That being said, I think I found a way to share facebook photo albums on here, so now I’m not limited to posting a few pictures. Here’s hoping this works! Seoraksan photo album: (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153355232080534.1073741831.668415533&type=1&l=cefd0d262f)

If that isn’t working, would someone please let me know. Anyways, the mountains and the park were huge and I only saw about 1/8th of what was available to see if that. I’m definitely going to head back there and go hiking again, because there is so much more to see there. The view from Seoraksan (Seorak Mountain) was awesome! I wish I had a better camera so that y’all could get a better sense of it. Seriously though, they have a few temples and shelters scattered throughout the mountains along the hiking trails and there are waterways and waterfalls in many different places. There was so much to see and so much to climb. Basically, this is one of the places that is a must see should anyone ever visit Korea. The mountain top was super windy, but the way the sun hit the valley was sublime. So yeah, 10/10. I do recommend. Plus I managed to make a few new friends while on the trip, and that’s always a bonus.

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A little bit closer to home, I’ve gotten to do a bit of rediscovery for the ex-pat community. We’d heard of a hiking trail for Taejosan that began close to the downtown area where many of us live, which would be a huge boon to us because the usual way to the trail heads require taking either a taxi or a bus and it can take as long as 30 minutes to get to the trail head, then we usually have to take a taxi or bus back home. We knew where it was supposed to come out but we couldn’t find where it was, so we were stuck having to back track. Unfortunately, that trip was cut short so we wound up having to leave the trail a bit early and take the bus home. So, the next weekend when I had a bit of free time I took the bus to where we left off and I followed the trail and discovered the trail head near our downtown. The only reason I had managed to do this successfully is thanks to the fact that my dad made sure I knew how to navigate both by map and by landmarks. I didn’t have a map, but because I was able to see or hear prominent landmarks (like the highway) I was able to point myself in the right direction every time the path forked. Of course, the reason we weren’t able to find the trail head at that earlier time is because when it comes out in the downtown area, it looks nothing like a trail head. I now have it marked on a map that we use and it should be accessible to anyone who can see the picture. Behold the fruits of my labor… and my finger because using a cameraphone without a bit of finger is impossible for me:

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I should have more pictures from that hike up soon. I just realized that I forgot to upload them.

(EDIT: Ok, they’re uploaded now, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153459103865534.1073741833.668415533&type=1&l=dc67d97a39)

So, then the weekend after that (I’ve been busy), we had a cultural trip with the English Teaching program that I’m a part of. (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153447863575534.1073741832.668415533&type=1&l=354fd15330)

We got to do a bit of horseback riding (painful, but fun), archery (they shoot their bows a bit differently, but it’s effective), rice cake making (hitting dough with a hammer is oddly satisfying), and mask painting (remind me to post a picture of mine). Then we got to go out to this mountainous river area (have I mentioned how much I love Korea’s geography? Mountains, rivers, and valleys with trees!) and that is definitely now on my list of places to go visit and hike in Korea. By the time I’m done with this country I will literally have walked all over it. They seem to have borrowed their archery and horseback ideas from the Mongols during the time that the Mongols held sway over Korea (don’t tell the Koreans I said that, they claim those traditions as Korean despite the largely steep, mountainous, forested terrain that would have made developing a strong horse-riding tradition a bit difficult).

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I’m going to kayak the heck out of that river.

Anyways, Korea is still wonderful. There are times when the culture can be a bit frustrating, and one of these days I’ll do a cultural downsides of Korea post, but for now, life is good. Many friends, much fun, and still a whole lot of adventure waiting for me outside. It’s finally getting colder, but such is the price we pay for fall colors. Halloween was a lot of fun and I enjoyed spending it with my friends as the laziest appearance of Captain America that I have ever seen (or been).

I’m going to try to post links to the rest of my photo albums. Hopefully they work:

Dance Festival:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153325743740534.1073741830.668415533&type=1&l=af5f4952f8

Hiking and Baekche Festival:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153302797010534.1073741829.668415533&type=1&l=997c647902

Random shots from being out and about:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153227621700534.1073741828.668415533&type=1&l=fccfb14d55

Hiking and reaching the summit of Taejosan for the first time:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153147641060534.1073741827.668415533&type=1&l=d64627fe57

Many shots from my first month in Korea:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153051431745534.1073741825.668415533&type=1&l=9477577720

That’s all for now,

Peace unto y’all,

Andrew

Giving Up on Giving Up

So, a combination of conversations with friends, self-reflection, small group, and a long-running dialogue with a friend have helped me arrive at this conclusion. My lack of care for myself has become something of an obstacle. I don’t have lofty goals of wealth, fame, or gratuitous amounts of success that seem to be a regular part of the American cultural ideal. I’m ok with that, because I don’t particularly like a lot of the cultural ideals that I’m presented with, but I lack ambition to the point where even if I set goals, I have no strong commitment to my personal goals and ideals. However, I’m really motivated when it comes to helping other people. I like helping others achieve their goals and do what they want to do with their lives. I am better motivated to help other people realize their futures than I am motivated to achieve my own.

Before moving to Korea I had a massive struggle with myself over whether or not I should just give up on my future goals and just become a piece in helping someone else achieve theirs. Ultimately I decided that on my better days I do have something that passes as a hope and ideal for the future that was worth pursuing, but I still struggle daily with the desire to just give up on those goals and exist in this kind of neutral state (live from day to day without any future hopes). It’s not necessarily that I want to die, it’s just that sometimes (on my bad days) I have very little care about whether or not I continue to live. If I were to summarize my feelings about myself, they would be “I’m not worth very much.”

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While this may be a realistic view within the larger history of existence, I struggle with finding a way to practice this worldview in a healthy manner. It’s not so much personal negativity as it is existential apathy. Looking at human history, there are billions of people who have long since been lost to the history of the world without any memory of their names and actions while they were living. Realistically speaking, this is the fate for most of us as well. It is as inevitable as the rotation of the earth. Few people make it into the history books, and fewer still are accurate portrayals of the person rather than the ideal they embodied. Looking at all this makes me very aware that whatever it is that existence is about, it’s certainly not about me. I’m far too small and insignificant, and who am I to say that I ought to be someone who goes down in the annals of history as a name and a face for students to learn about in their history textbooks while being bombarded with the dominant narratives of their culture? There is little worth in that.

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As I mentioned in my “Facing Fear” post, one of the questions that has been frequently on my mind is “When will it all fall apart and what will I have done to cause it?” This has probably been one of the contributing factors to my struggle with motivation regarding my personal goals. When I sometimes believe myself to be a walking disaster waiting to happen, it makes it difficult to expect myself of being capable of good things.

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It’s an odd sort of arrogance, to not think highly of myself but still spend so much time thinking about myself. It is a self-centered sort of thinking, and rather silly. It’s as though I’m saying, “I’m not worth much, but I’m worth the time to criticize and doubt and question and devalue.” The best solution I can find for that is to find a habit of truly thinking about others more than myself (both in the positive and negative regard).

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I have a lot to live for and a lot that I’d like to do with my time here. One of those things is to help others to the best of my ability. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be so energized by the idea of helping other people. I think I just need to realize that in order to do so in the best way possible, I need to better myself (both in my outlook on life and me and by education, which is one of my future goals). So, my plan for the immediate future is to give up on giving up. It’s been far to easy for me to say, “Oh, they didn’t email me back, I guess they don’t want me.” “Oh, well, that doesn’t have a particularly high probability of success, so it probably won’t happen anyways. I shouldn’t try very hard.” I don’t know where I’ll find the motivation or energy for the effort, but I’m going to do my best to try. I know the great sage Yoda is credited with saying, “Do or do not, there is no try.” But to that I say, doing and failing miserably is trying. It is doing, but it’s not doing well, and that’s what I’m going for. So, until then, I’m going to call it trying.

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End note – I realize a lot of this sounds messed up and unhealthy to some of you reading this. Guess what? It is unhealthy. Such is life with depression. So, with that being said, whatever the strange combination of chemical imbalances have caused me to think so little of my own existence and have kept me from strong amounts of motivation, I’m still here. I don’t want to go down in the history books, but if I can help it, I will not go quietly into the night.

Kenosis

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the fortune to look into the Creeds of the Church and the history behind them with a bit more depth than usual. One of the central issues behind the Creeds is the dual nature of Jesus, who, as the Church holds, is both fully man and fully God. The implications of that being made a little more clear in a passage of Scripture known as the Kenosis Passage, Philippians 2:5-11

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Kenosis comes from the Greek word κενοω which means “to empty” or “to make void.” (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2758&t=NASB) Its traditional use is in regards to how Jesus emptied himself by taking on human form and making the move from divine to mundane. As has been mentioned before, this made him vulnerable to hunger, exhaustion, disease, stepping in camel poop, death, and ruptured relationship with himself should he sin. But throughout my life I’ve had the fortunate misfortune of being alongside family, loved ones, and friends as they struggled and suffered with the troubles life brings (along with the joys) and being human, have suffered many of those troubles myself. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve studied, the more I realized that becoming human wasn’t the final kenosis of Jesus. He could have been made a human and then become a king leading an army fed, healed, and even resurrected by his miracles. No one would have been able to stop him. His teaching and speaking ability could have made him a great rabbi and orator. Thousands more would have not only flocked to hear him teach, but paid money to study under him and learn from him. Instead he wandered the wilderness followed by a crowd of common, dirty, smelly people and specifically called poor fishermen and tax collectors and others who had been deemed unfit to continue studying in school and without a future in the religious teaching world. These people followed him and he had compassion on them. Looking at his life and ministry, he wept with the grieving, suffered with the suffering, and was low with the lowly. How often do we model this kenosis in our understanding of what it means to be Christian? What do we do to lower ourselves and our needs and quiet the million other things clamoring for our attention to be able to give that compassion and love to another human being?

Henri Nouwen says this about the compassionate life:

“The compassionate life is the life of downward mobility! In a society in which upward mobility is the norm, downward mobility is not only discouraged but even considered unwise, unhealthy, or downright stupid. Who will freely choose a low-paying job when a high-paying job is being offered? Who will choose poverty when wealth is within reach? Who will choose the hidden place when there is a place in the limelight? Who will choose to be with one person in great need when many people could be helped during the same time? Who will choose to withdraw to a place of solitude and prayer when there are so many urgent demands from all sides?” (Nouwen, Henri. Here and Now. p. 138)

How do we practice downward mobility, or as it has been called, kenosis?