Value

In a world that wants to keep you consuming, there is a laundry list of things determined to mark your value just shy of perfection while simultaneously offering some kind of wonder product to help you reach your ultimate self worth. I bet you can hear the announcements, or even visualize the ads, 

You’re one workout program away from your dreambody!

Just start using this beauty product and you’ll be a completely new person!

Invest with this bank and you will be worth so much more in the future!

We live in a society and culture that dangles their crafted idea of perfection in front of our noses all in hopes that we keep dishing out cash to them in a pursuit of more self value. It’s exhausting. But the problem is even deeper than a societal problem. It is rooted in the context of our families and friends, and even our own hearts. We want to be valued. We want to be worth something to someone, anyone. So the question becomes, 

Where does your value come from, and is it a sustainable and sufficient source?

You can’t let other things determine your value. No stranger, partner, coworker, friend, or even family member should. No occupation or circumstance, good or bad, such as mental health issues, diseases/physical ailments, job titles, diplomas/certificates, or location should either. All these things are labels. You can let them sink deep and become a part of your identity, but ultimately, you must decide where your value comes from. A say this hesitantly, however, as our culture has absorbed this idea and corrupted it. I hear things like, “You, and only you, get to decide your value. It’s been twisted so that instead of you deciding where your value comes from it’s being pushed that you must cultivate your own value. This is the trap I see most people fall into nowadays, busting their butt and doing everything on their own power to create self worth. If your bar of peak self value is still the one crafted by society you will always fall short and still feel unsatisfied, and the whole thing becomes as draining as chasing external factors to determine your value. Our culture has shaped our heart to associate our “best self” with perfection, and as long as our heart views our self worth in this light we will be disappointed and weary. The truth is, you will never be able to produce enough self value and worth to fulfill that desire you feel. 

But GOOD NEWS!

The way society is set up and how we find our value reminds me a lot of the overarching story of the bible but missing the main guy: Jesus. Most people outside the faith don’t realize this, but a big theme of most of the bible is that we just can’t live up to the bar of perfection that God has set. And just like our society we see this standard of perfection throughout the 10 commandments, the law, and most of the Old Testament, that God seems to be holding over us. But one of the main points of all this is to realize that we can’t do this on our own. 

Romans 3:20

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

And becoming conscious of our sins, really means understanding we don’t make the cut which is stated just a few verses past the previous one. 

Romans 3:23

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

But unlike our society, we aren’t left here. This isn’t the end of the story. Between Romans 3:20 and Romans 3:23 we read:

Romans 3:21-22

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

You see, God sets the bar of value high but through His grace He sent His son Jesus to bring that bar to us, so that we don’t have to run the rat race chasing perfection and wearing ourselves out. Now we can rest and finally look around us and enjoy the present. We can understand that by listening and following Jesus we don’t have the pressure of pursuing value or trying to cultivate it on our own. He helps us see that we don’t need to be perfect for God to want us. We just need to be humble enough to admit that we can’t do it on our own, and give up control. Where we fall short, Jesus makes up the difference. 

So place your value in the hands of an all knowing and all loving God, who says you are His, you are loved, and that you are worth the price of His son’s life. He wouldn’t pay that price, and do all the work if He didn’t want you. When this kind of unearned value takes root in your heart it changes the way you live. Surround yourself with people who see you like God does, people who will remind you of your value when you yourself can’t see it. Pursue a passion and do work that serves as an avenue to tangibly create or express the value God has placed in you. The paradox is that in realizing you are broken, you become perfect in the eyes of the One who really counts. So continue to walk in humility and with a humble heart with Jesus, and He will lead you through a life full of potential and purpose, a life overflowing with a value we didn’t pay for, all while glorifying the One who did. 

A Positive Note in a Dark Time

I know someone needs to hear this today. Things will get better. Have peace knowing that the story’s end has already been solidified through Jesus. In understanding that peace open yourself up to participation in the here and now. Use this time to dream and scheme up ways to love, and when things get better, put those dreams into action.

From Bob Goff’s Devotional: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Thanks Bob Goff for the inspiring and uplifting words in a time of confusion and fear.

As always, much love.

Thoughts on the Heart 3

My heart is a gift to God.

With Corona Virus running rampant throughout the world, people are scared. Covid 19 is devastating families and placing fear in people’s hearts, and a lot of us are asking what we can do. 

Man, everyday God is doing things in my heart. It is amazing following him. Every day he breaks my heart for others which leads to humility and makes me more humble. BUT HE DOESN’T LEAVE ME THERE. He fills it back up with passion and compassion which inspires me to help and care for others, and to savor every moment I have here on earth and the people I get to share those moments with. He fills my heart so full with identity in Him that I can’t help but overflow with joy and peace and be reminded of how blessed I am.

With everything going on, I pray that we can give our hearts to our creator because I promise you He will treat it for what it is, a gift. I pray that if you don’t believe in God that you give him a chance now. God is so present in the midst of suffering and chaos. His arms are open for you, always. I pray that we take our hurting hearts during this time and give them to God. I pray that we take our full hearts and use them to help our families, communities, and the world during this time. Don’t let your hearts be filled with fear but with peace that God’s got us and is using what the enemy intended for evil to bring people into His love, which is bigger than any fear or obstacle we will ever face, Covid 19 included. 

Gosh man, my heart. It aches for those hurting, yet is full from God’s gracious love. I am open to God using me to help however He wants during this time. Maybe He will use these words to bring peace into some people’s hearts. I am praying for you all. I pray that you don’t think your role is unimportant in stopping Covid 19. Distancing yourself may seem like a small act, but it’s a huge act of love to your neighbors right now. 

Events like this sometimes help us to see the important things in life; family, love, identity. God can be all those things and more for you if you let Him. Spend this time with family, helping how you can, and consider gifting your heart to God. You don’t need to wrap it and place a bow on it or wait for it to be in better shape or until it’s in worse shape, hand it over to Him now and see what He does with it. 

I give my heart as a gift to God and He returns it to me more full than when I sent it.

God is a gift to my heart. 

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

 

This is an essay I wrote this year that really gets to the core of what I want to do with my life. In simple terms, I want to be a storyteller. There are so many avenues that can be followed when pursuing storytelling, and I don’t necessarily mind how I end up working as a one. What I really care about is what makes a storyteller. The motives of great storytellers and the characteristics and values they have are amazing, genuine and rooted in what I believe to be some of the most important things in life. Being a storyteller means so much more than people know, and in this essay, I want to explain to you what it means to me.

~

Hi, my name is Chad Campbell-Gonzalez and I would like to share with you how I figured out I want to be a storyteller. Growing up, I loved writing. In elementary school when I was asked what I want to do I said become a writer. There was something about writing that drew me in. I think at the time it was the limitless expression that writing offered. Blank pages were like blank stories, empty worlds, and untraversed universes, waiting to be explored by my imagination and my pen. Each word I wrote added to this thing I was creating that came from inside me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was falling in love with creativity.

Creativity is a critical aspect of storytelling, and it is so fascinating and unique. Getting to express myself through words and imagery is powerful. It’s personal. Creativity is like the key to a door that opens up a world of adventures in self-exploration and understanding. Through it, we try and better grasp who we think we are and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for those around us. That’s why, although unique and definitely a self-journey, creativity is also a voyage of all people and an adventure that leads to building community.

As I grew older, middle school and high school weren’t environments where creative writing was prioritized. It was still there but you really had to search to find it. All that given, I drifted away from writing and pursued what I thought would make my family and those around me proud. I wanted to be someone important and powerful. I wanted a job that was hard to achieve and when I accomplished it, people would be impressed. I wanted to be everything except what my heart wanted me to be. And so I pursued those things. All through high school and through the beginning part of my college career I had myself convinced that was what I wanted. Over that span a few things happened that, at the time I didn’t know, but were slowly turning me back towards my passion for storytelling.

I found Jesus on May 30, 2015, my sophomore year of high school. My experience with Him has shown me how important people are, and most importantly how important love is. Love is one of the most powerful things on the planet, and it wasn’t until I started following Jesus that I really took a look at my heart and the love that was in my life. I was going through some family issues, as we all are, but I starting to really think about what it means to love and how to do it and I was able to start working through some of those things. Then my journey with understanding love grew even more in my senior year of high school when I read the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I could see him exploring ideas on love and trying to understand what it meant to him and I thought to myself, I want to do that! Carver helped me see how writing helps a writer work through and wrestle with confusing things in their life, and lets others see what they take away from it.

So, with these things in mind and my passion for writing starting to spark back up I decided to take a writing class at the University of Washington. It was amazing. Writing again I could feel the creative cogs in my head creak back into life. I felt like a kid again. I felt like me. I was able to start unpacking and working on things in my life that hurt me, confused me and I was able to express and share all the things that healed me and uplifted me. It was like all of these huge realizations flooded me and I was able to hear my heart again. I came to realize that being a storyteller means wanting to understand and love yourself, and more importantly, sharing what you discover with others so that they can learn, grow and be reminded that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I began to really appreciate the personal therapy session I received every time I put the ink on the page or my fingers on the keys. Being a storyteller means creating and it means listening. It involves getting out in your communities and sharing experiences. It means helping each other see their best self and get the most out of life. Being a storyteller means loving people, and that’s what I want to do with my life.

Consistency through the Climb

 

Hello everyone! I haven’t written anything on here in a long time, and I miss it. I miss you! Writing on my blog has always been in the back of my mind. I want to do it, I just kept finding every reason not to. But I don’t want to do that anymore. So this blog post marks the beginning of consistency in my writing. I want to commit time to my community on here and I want to start holding myself more accountable. From now on I am going to be posting on my blog once a week on every Friday. I am not holding myself to a specific time on Friday, but it will be before the day is over. This is doable and this will help me post frequently and consistently, but it also allows me enough time to write quality posts. I would love your feedback if you want me to post on a different day or have any questions. One thing you may be saying is, “Yah but Chad, what are you actually doing to be more consistent?” and that is a great question! Here are 3 things that I am implementing and trying out to help me become consistent.

 

  1. Planning. I am setting side a very small amount of time each day dedicated just to working on blog posts, 30 min each day. However, I am not just saying that I will do that. I have written it into my calendar, and it is usually really early or late so that it will hopefully be a time that I won’t have to move around. By putting it into your calendar rather than just saying you are going to do it, the plan becomes more solidified and you will more likely get it done.
  2. Micro Goals. Of course, I think that you should dream big and have a mountain top goal that you are working arduously to achieve. But if you want to keep your sanity and faith along the way then you better set yourself some micro goals. If you already took my advice from part one then you my friend, have already set yourself up to be successful with a micro goal. What will ultimately determine what these goals are is based on what you want your end goal to be. What is your mountain top? For me, blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it and my goal through it is to learn more about myself and work on my writing skills plus share that with you. But my Everest sized goal would be to reach as many people as possible, whatever that looks like, and have my writing be something that brings joy, positivity and guidance into their lives. I want to reach people and let them know that they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through. I want to build community. A micro goal for this could be reach five people. Just reach a few people first. Then ten, hundreds and keep climbing. Achieving these micro goals helps you build confidence and momentum and reminds you why you started this journey in the first place.
  3. Extraction and Passion. Consistency demands from you time. You have to make room for whatever you are pursuing. For me, I plan on cutting back on the amount of time I spend watching YouTube or Netflix. In my case I don’t have to make too much room to achieve my micro goal of 30 minutes a day of working on my blog. Rounding up some time to commit to what you’re pursuing doesn’t have to be hard. A few minutes here and there and you can gather a lot of time quickly. So, if you haven’t been consistent in whatever it is that you want to be, that means something has got to go for you to have time to commit to it. For some, this could be the biggest obstacle standing in your path to consistency, and that’s because it correlates with the most important thing that leads to consistency: Passion. You have to ask yourself, is this something that I really want? If the answer is no, then please do not waste your time trying to pursue it. Find what you are passionate about first because I truly believe that the secret to being the most consistent you can be, is by having passion to drive it. Passion will lead to consistency. It’s easy to devote time to something that you love and want to invest in.

 

I hope these 3 tips will help you reach the level of consistency that you desire. Being consistent is your own journey and what that looks like is different for each person. The last piece of advice I want to give you before I go is to support all those around you. We are all trying to work on ourselves and pursue our passions. Whatever it is that you are trying to be more consistent in, I hope that you also strive to be consistently kind and encouraging to one another. Let those around you know that you see and acknowledge their own work in reaching their mountain top.

Thoughts on the Heart Part 2

 

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, delicate and messy when you get into it, but when you take a step back and view it as a whole, it’s perfect and beautiful. Each piece is unique and holds its own value. We share pieces of our heart to others, so they can stitch us in to theirs. We’re hurt when we can’t find ourselves in their work. We accept pieces of other’s hearts and add it to our own project, growing it slowly over time, some people’s material dominating the work of art. The collage is a reminder. Sometimes pleasant, and sometimes of things we want to forget. You rip at the thread and dig your nails into the stitching and leave a gapping hole. You find more material, but it never fits right. Sometimes you lock away your work because your disappointed with how your project has turned out. Disgusted in fact. You wanted it done and complete a long time ago so for now it will sit up on the highest shelf collecting dust. Maybe that’s you right now. An artist scrounging for more material, even if it’s cheap and dirty. Maybe you’ve given up looking. Maybe you’re discouraged because of all the great collages out there. Who knows how long it’ll be before you feel the needle and thread between your fingers again. One day maybe, you build up the courage and pull the collage down. The uneven stitching and faded colors a globe in your hands, but you keep working at it. You see someone else just starting their collage and cut out a big chunk of your material for them. You become more open to sharing what you have and accepting what others offer. You find strong, inspiring cloth in your faith, your family, your friends, the small things. You work day in and day out sharing and growing your collage, and fall in love with the process, not the end product. When you step back and look at your work, the uneven stitching and faded material are still there in the mix of new fabric. This time, however, it warms your heart. You look at the beautiful mess and see everyone that has impacted you, loved you, encouraged you, supported you. You reflect on the things that hurt you and are thankful. You can see where you were and how far you’ve come. Most importantly, you see the endless room for more: More material, more cloth, more fabric, more loss, more growth, more people, more love. You understand there will always be more to give and take. With a new-found courage and excitement, you get back to work on your project.

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, perfect and beautiful.

Thoughts on the Heart

 

The heart is a curious thing. I don’t mean heart in the sense of the organ that pumps blood through our body. No, I’m talking about the heart that is connected with our emotions and intertwined with our soul. I’m talking about that fragile thing inside us that lets us feel love, empathy, and sadness. The thing that drives our passions in the pursuit of our dreams. It may not be a real, tangible object, but the power it has in us is very real. How we think about our heart and how we present it to others reveals a lot about the story of who we are.

 

Broken Hearted

I think it’s safe to say a broken heart is one of the most devastating things someone can experience in their lifetime. There is no cry like that of the broken hearted. Unlike physical wounds there is no treatment for a broken heart. We can try and use our friends and family like a cast to help us heal, use worldly pleasures as a sling, or consume alcohol and drugs like doctor prescribed medications. But the truth is, a broken heart never fully heals. Things get better and the ache you felt at first may not be as painful as it once was, but it is still there. It is a part of you and your story now. There are many things that can lead to a broken heart, but at the core of the sorrow is loss. Loss of a loved one, a friend, an ability, an opportunity, the point is something is gone, and it left with a piece of your heart. That’s why it is impossible to fully recover, because you invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost. I urge the broken hearted to not let that missing piece be a reminder of what’s gone, but a reminder of what you had. You invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost for a reason, most likely because you believed in it, had love towards it, or it brought a value to your life. So, next time you feel the ache in your heart where that scar is, let it remind you of all the good memories you had. Embrace that stirring in your heart and never let it take good things and turn them into negative things.

Brave Hearted

This is someone who has been broken hearted in life, someone who has hit rock bottom but hasn’t let that stop them from sharing their heart with others again. A brave hearted person can give their love when it seems like there is none left to give. A brave hearted person loves those that are hard to love at times. They are courageous with their love in the face of adversity, and are a strong example of continuing to love despite being hurt before.

Open Hearted

The most vulnerable of them all is the open hearted. They express their love without concealment. Their actions and words align with the feelings in their heart. Having an open heart means your love pours out into your everyday life and is very noticeable to others. There is honesty and clarity in the words and actions of people with an open heart. It is comforting being around them because they share their feelings in a truthful and real way, which creates a comforting environment and makes others feel like they can be open in return.

Kind Hearted/Big Hearted

Being kind hearted or having a big heart means that your heart takes on the burdens of others. You care as much about others hearts as you do your own. Having a kind and big heart is like having an open heart, both have a foundation of love for yourself first, so that you can give love to others. However, a kind-hearted person’s intentions aren’t always as noticeable. Someone with a big heart might take on the pain of someone else, but that doesn’t always translate into big, apparent actions. A kind-hearted person is there for others and is full of compassion.

Cold Hearted    

The cold-hearted person is a sad story. I believe that this is someone who has been broken hearted one too many times. They have had too many bad experiences when they’ve shared their love, so they wall it off so that they don’t get hurt anymore. It is scary to keep putting yourself out there when you’ve only been damaged from doing so. It becomes safe and secure to keep your heart and love guarded.

Full Hearted

Looking at this in terms of action, like doing something full heartedly, means doing that task with full commitment and emotional investment. But being full hearted means, you are at peace. You have a deep and healthy love with your circumstances and current situations in life. Being full hearted gives you confidence and produces joy.

 

No matter what condition you heart is in, I urge you not to give up on sharing your love. Be there for the broken hearted and remind them they’ll be okay. I ask you to try and understand the cold hearted. They have been hurt and if we can be considerate and help by bringing a healthy love into their life instead of shutting them out, I believe that they can start to tear down their walls. I hope after reading this you can appreciate the brave and open hearted. I hope you strive to be full hearted and kind hearted. Love can be a frightening thing. I believe that truly loving is one of the scariest things you can do in life, and one of the most rewarding. Understanding your heart and what you are feeling is so important for your journey in life. If you only walk away with one thing from this article, I hope it’s this: Love is powerful and if we all use it to help build each other up, then we can accomplish so many amazing things as a society. So, don’t be selfish with your love and be aware of your own hearts condition, as well as others.

The Other Side of Silence

grayscale photo of tree and grass field

I wrote this essay this last year in college. It is my first attempt at a collage essay. For those of you who may not know, a collage essay is formed by bits and pieces of information in a poetic form that answer tough, deep questions. This prompt asked the question who I am and why I write. It is a daunting task trying to put into words who you are. I feel you can never really fully explain who you are. What makes you, you, is always changing and evolving. All the memories and experiences that shape you aren’t always the big events in your live. Sometimes, it is the small ones that impact us the most. In this essay I try to touch on the big things, and the little things.

 

The Other Side of Silence

 

Silence.

I’m afraid of letting people down.

I’m afraid being alone. That’s what I tell myself but I’m actually afraid of losing people.

The emptiness left in people by tragedy.

The depression hidden behind smiles.

The world became hollow and eerie.

The shell of a perfect world formed through youthful and innocent eyes started to crack and reveal all the evil and loss that were scratching at the surface. I found out that everybody, even the people I suspected the least, had horrible things happen to them or had done horrible things themselves.

Growing up.

“He wanted to see his son, but it scared him to think that Charlie would no longer be a boy but had become a man without a father in his life.” ̴ B. Harrison

I want to tell stories about that moment when you realize your parents are just people. They make mistakes too.

I want to tell stories about what it means to be a man.

I remember drinking beer, tattoos, facial hair, fighting, and sex.

What are we not talking about?

Heritage.

I am a white male. I have privileges that I don’t deserve and power I can’t control. I don’t know the extent of my power. I didn’t ask for this. I try to exercise caution with my responsibility.

My relationship to power tastes like cake, like free sweets.

Brothers. Three boys in one room. Depression and anxiety and sexual ambition are out of control. I am the oldest. I must lead and guide. Perfection is my aim; Academically, physically, and more discreetly, emotionally.

I remember sex made you cool.

Family reunions in San Antonio. The sun made my shoulders brown and the humidity made my dad and step mom upset. As kids, my brothers, cousins and I would all play games, swim, talk to distant relatives we didn’t remember, and eat. There was always so much food, and the food was huge. Everything was bigger in Texas. Spanish words mixed with guitar strums, laughter, checker pieces clicking on wood, and forks scraping plates. Everyone was always hungry for more, they just didn’t know what.

Tall fir trees enclosed my grandparents’ house in Littlerock, Washington. Inside their house dusty knick-knacks and family pictures were everywhere. I loved the old smell and how everything was worn-in. I loved the fireplace, the warmth. All along the driveway, the bushes had conquered junk cars my grandpa had scrapped for parts, and the shrubs had taken over the old trails that used to wind through the trunks of trees. A small creek trickled off to the side. I could always faintly hear birds chirping some where high up in the branches and I loved the sweet melody the wind played through the dancing trees. It was a quiet hum that let me know I was home.

Love.

My father wasn’t there but I still learned to love.

I’m afraid of becoming my father.

“A Father to the Fatherless” ̴ Psalm 68:5

My grandma showed me how around campfires in the middle of nowhere, and through jokes at all the wrong times.

My grandpa taught me how to love through greasy fingers working in his shop and playing catch until the mosquitoes became unbearable.

My cousins taught me down by the river in Texas. They showed me how to love through smiles with our toes in the water when the sun sank low and made the whole world orange.

My first girlfriend taught me how to love. She showed me a world I didn’t know existed outside of movies and novels. She also showed me how imperfect and messy it all is.

And when things fell apart with her my friends showed me how to love by getting me out of bed and taking me on adventures.

But my mom, she taught me the most. She showed me how to love simply by being there when no one else was. By caring and loving me when it seemed like no one else did.

It is a strong word if you choose to let it be. Hate is just another four-letter word like love. They only have value when we give them value, and I can’t help myself.

I fell into some bad habits and the wrong crowd for a part of my life. I developed my own silence. But I was rescued by Jesus.

This is me.

The Other Side.

There is value in listening. Whether you’re listening to a family member for the hundredth time, or a stranger for the first, the fact that you are listening and engaged with another person is important. It’s important for learning and growing.

I want to tell stories that change people’s perspective and way of thinking. I want them to know they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Above all else I want to tell stories that get people to find their voice and break their silence.

I remember how it used to be, and I envision how it could be.

My aesthetic is messy and complicated.

My aesthetic is voice.

The path is through listening and revealing our own unique and ugly stories.

The tragedies and loses bloom inside those that keep them in and slowly squeeze out their life and restrict their voice. So, the silence grows. I believe that things could be different.