Confined by Freedom (Repost)

I posted this a few years ago, but I feel led to repost…

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A married couple sits in my office and there are long minutes of weeping and silence. They are trying to navigate their emotions, and the anger they feel for one another. The wife has committed adultery, and the husband doesn’t know it yet. I know it as the pastor, because of a previous private conversation with the wife. Both have spiraled downward in their walk with God and their relationship with each other. If it is possible to describe it this way they would say that they hate each other, but still love one another deeply.

The husband drinks a lot. He also has been frustrated with his wife because of her lack of interest in times of privacy. It all makes sense now.

They used to have so much fun together….they thought. They used to stay up late, party, and live however they wanted to live. When I asked them about their spiritual history the wife rolled her eyes and described a legalistic religious past that drove her away from the Church. The husband nodded as if to echo a similar history. “All they ever talked about was things we shouldn’t do”, she said “you can’t drink, you can’t smoke….you can’t have sex…..can’t, can’t, can’t.”

This couple was so broken. As a pastor, I could have sat there and told them everything they did wrong….and believe me there was going to be a time soon for stern guidance…..but right now I was there to listen.

I am not sure if it was because she was caught or she was frightened that she would lose her family as she knew it but she wept bitterly at the thought of divorce. I wish I could give a happy ending to this story, but sadly I can’t. As would be expected the couple split and the whole family dynamic changed.

Why do I tell this story? It is one that is all too common, and so many people are hurting because of this same scenerio. The fact is I can understand why people get frustrated with a church or belief system that seems to be so confining (can’t do this…can’t do that). It is much more attractive to seek to live a life in which one is not confined by such values. I get that. I am not one that could be called a legalist, but I do get tired of  seeing lives torn apart by brokenness. At the time, these lifestyles seem to bring about so much freedom….but way too many times there are people sitting in front of me….weeping….wishing they would have chosen another path. People become captive to their own desires.

God heals….yes……but if we obey Him to begin with He will show us such incredible freedom, and a life that is defined by joy.

Follow Him.

-Landon DeCrastos

Picture This: Forever Changed

“Hey you…excuse me! Can I ask you a question?” I was a 14 year old boy at this point in my life and I had gained a certain amount of wisdom in my early years. When a cute girl came up to me, wanting to ask me something, it is courteous to oblige and give her my full attention. “Sure”, I said trying not to give any indication that my 14 year old mind was already trying to control the hormone flow to my body. We were at a youth retreat with a number of other churches, so I felt more bold to speak to girls I knew I would never see again (this was before social media). She was easy on the eyes, for sure, but I was so unskilled in the ways of women.

She looked at me with these mezmorizing blue eyes and asked if she could take my picture. I thought it was because she saw me from a distance and thought I was attractive…nope. There was a different reason entirely. It turns out that this girl was simply doing her friend a favor by taking my picture. Apparently, I looked a lot like a friend from school named Frank (pronounced Frahnk). The resemblence was so uncanny that it deserved a picture. She even asked another guy to join the photo to ease the awkwardness of the moment. I went with it but I was so disappointed. Even though the interaction was brief, I knew I had to work on my skills with the opposite sex. She was cute though. No doubt about it. I knew I never would see her again, but I still chickened out, and never made another move.

A few years later, I started dating Kara (who is now my wife) and things were getting serious. I had made the cut (in my mind at least), and she started telling her friends about me and I realized she was the one I wanted to be with forever (I had a quick attachment). When we were dating a little less than a year, I attended Kara’s graduation open house, and got to meet some of her friends and extended family. Things were going well.

During the party, I met one of Kara’s friends (who also happened to be named Kara), and I noticed her friend was staring at me in an odd way. For the rest of this conversation, to avoid confusion, I will call my Kara, Kara 1 and her friend, Kara 2.

Kara 2: (Head slanted…staring at me) Hey Kara…your boyfriend looks like a friend of mine.

Kara 1: Really? Who is that?

Kara 2: He…looks like my friend Frank (pronounced Frahnk)

Kara 1: That’s cool.

Kara 2: Do…(pause)…do you remember that time we were at that youth retreat when I showed you that guy who looked like Frank and I asked you to…

Kara 1: …take his picture….yes…

Both of the girls looked at me and my eyes were wide at this point. The conversation went silent, my palms instantly started to sweat, and then we all immediately made the same realization. My girlfriend was the one who took that picture of me years ago, and we didn’t even know each other. I never thought I would see her again. I had completely forgotten this whole event even occured. That memory came flooding back into my mind and it dawned on me that I was in the midst of one of those situations that only God could have orchestrated.

I wish I would have made my move when I was 14. Perhaps that would have given me a few more years with the woman I love more than life.

Now, we have 2 beautiful kids, and I have been forever changed…by a simple picture.

Yes...this was the actual picture taken, by a cute girl that I never thought I would see again.
Yes…this was the actual picture taken, by a cute girl that I never thought I would see again.

Dear Part of Me,

Hi Hon,

karaandiIt’s your husband. This week I have written letters to our amazing children. The first one was to our beautiful girl. The most recent one was to our amazing boy. Today, I wanted to take some time to write you a letter, and try to begin to scratch the surface of my love for you. It probably can’t be done, but I will try anyway. Before I start, I want you to know immediately that you mean the world to me, and I could not function in life without the love and support that you provide daily. You are an amazing wife and mother, and I always thank God for you. You were made for me. I am not even close to being good enough for you.

I know that scripture tells us that you and I are one, but for the longest time I never really knew what that meant. There are obvious implications to this that need not be mentioned in a public forum, but the Bible seems to indicate something even more than the physical aspect. A few years ago, I think I caught a glimpse of what this means. You were walking across the room to go get something off of the dining room table and I just looked at you. I couldn’t look away. In that moment, I thought about us, and our closeness. I realized that you and me were the same person. I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt like I was spiritually looking into a mirror, and I realized that, without you, I am only half of who God created me to be. In addition to this, every time I look at you I see you as a new bride. No matter what you think about yourself, or how you think you look. I love you more than I love myself. I haven’t checked to see if that is theologically okay to say, but I have to say it.

Everything about you is beautiful. Your eyes are mezmerizing, and I melt when they are filled with tears. One of my favorite things about you is your laugh. I can detect it from another room, and it always makes me smile when I hear it. I especially get joy out of seeing you laugh so hard your eyes well up with tears. We have had many of those times, and I love every minute of it.

I know sometimes I don’t live up to being the husband you deserve. I know I am not perfect, and we all know that I don’t claim to be, but I want you to know that, to me, you are perfect. I can see no fault in you. Of course, I know you are human, and you make mistakes, but those mistakes and the way they strengthen you makes you perfect.

When we met a little over 14 years ago, I felt as if I were in elementary school again, and my job was to chase you at recess. All I knew was that I could picture us being together forever. I know that is weird to say after just meeting you, but hey, I was right.

When God created you, he gave you a special purpose in life. Part of this purpose, I believe, was to be an incredible, hope-filled example to other wives and mothers. You are excelling in this because you put Christ at the center. Everyone who knows you can see the light of Jesus on you.

I want to thank you for being my partner in ministry. I could not travel this journey without a powerhouse like you by my side. You help refine me like nothing else can, and I thank you for always being there for me.

We have been through a lot huh? Although it has not all been fun, or full of excitement, we have both can agree that we are blessed. No matter how much money we have, no matter what today may hold, and no matter what disappointments are behind us, we are a team.

I love you so much. More than you will ever know. You are a part of me. Now and forever babe.

-Me

My Greatest Nightmare

Tonight, I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. It was so much fun, and while we played we laughed and got to bond in a special way. As I was playing with them, I reflected on my greatest nightmare. Yes…that’s right…..my greatest nightmare. I know that sounds somewhat odd, but to be honest if you have followed this blog for any amount of time you already know I sometimes reflect on things that are unusual. So…my greatest nightmare? Allow me to explain.

8 years ago, a movie came 0ut that I could only watch a couple times. Some considered it somewhat of a dramatic comedy, but when I watch it this film scares me. The movie is called “Click”.

The premise of the story revolves around Adam Sandler’s character, Michael, who discovers a magic remote that controls his surrounding environment. He has the ability to pause, and fast forward time. When he is impatient he simply fast forwards time to a more desirable event. The problem is, this remote saves his preferences and begins to predict when he will use its powers. So, when it senses conflict it will automatically skip “scenes”. In the story, Michael, overuses this feature and finds himself snapping out of a trance nearly 20 years in the future. Michael had been on autopilot this whole time and, as a result, his marriage was over, and he doesn’t recall the childhood of his own kids.

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I woke up and my children were adults. I didn’t recognize them and they were indifferent toward me. It was a nightmare. It took me a long time to fall back asleep.

I desire to soak up this time as much as possible.

You have a lot to do on a regular basis. You have to go to work, finish your degree, save for retirement, and navigate life’s conflicts. If you are not careful…you may skip the most important things that life has to offer. Our desire is to be serious enough to gain credibility and work hard enough to eventually retire, but when can we slow down and be available for those around us? Pray hard that this nightmare doesn’t become your reality.

So…tonight I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. Not only because it was fun…..but I can’t afford to let Satan win.

-Landon DeCrastos