Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are.

- Don Ruiz

On the weekends- for fun,  I lead youth at a local parish. I don’t make enough to buy groceries on, or pay even 1/2 my rent: but I do make a difference. Just today, we sat in a room together with the lights out and two candles lit and they talked about their fears.

I suppose I’m not your typical youth minister- because I don’t fit in well with the herd and at times, I’m all to alarming with my ‘outside’ words- my attempts at finding myself on the exterior of the hallmark boxes in most the world. I’m witty and rhetorical. I state I see God outside of Church, in the faces I meet, in the situations I’m in and sometimes? I don’treally see him at all. If the church was a business, they may condemn me for not seeing their product- the sales pitch is that God is everywhere. I’m on a mission to uncover him wherever I go. In the quiet times I can’t find my place, or frustration leads over belief- I am able to come back to my center and say: God is all around- give him time and you’ll see his face. And? I usually do- but not his face exactly. He’s in a friend that calls and asks how I am, or one of my students that has a question and I have an answer. My God lives in others, and I know I don’t have to be perfect, or strive to be anyone but who I am- with grace and the brand that I encompass: He’s here anyway. Unfortunately, some of those that also see him, don’t see him inside me.

I slept with someone a while back- shared space. And maybe because I found God in my living room that night, in the discussions we had or the ways we talked until 4am about life’s challenges and our greatest fears and in the very connection until the morning light- it caused a fervor. A crack in the glass of who I was as a leader, because I openly said, “I spent the night in the presence of a man.”

Maybe I have the religion piece wrong. Maybe God is only in the Church and I am only to be praised when my perceived soul shines brighter than everyone else. Because: You want perfection. And I have, me.

We use God, or the lack of God for wars, and judging others. Mostly, we use the perception of fear and religion to put everyone in boxes, and condemn them for living out loud.

I am not easily packaged.

I see God, in people and situations because I believe in the human element. God isn’t merely in Heaven- he is in the little girl who wants to give her allowance to the needy, or the single mother who buys an extra can or two to put into the Food Shelf bin by the door. God, is in the details- not in the judgements.

Our careers, (mine perhaps more than yours,) are based on the belief that we believe in what we are doing or that we are able to be shiny, happy, living examples of branded goodness. Be good- be yourself, and to those that don’t understand, who are afraid to see you outside your plastic label? Well, they’ll of the brand that never explores more than how to imprison everyone else: and how to fail.

People are routinely fired for facebook profiles, or words on a blog. I’m employed but perhaps, am a cautionary tale. I love that I have the power to tell you that for the first time in a long time, that night? When he stayed and I was awake and thinking of all that was discussed: I knew myself more. I don’t find it disgusting or wrong, or lewd or hypocritical that as an adult, I made a decision to live my life to the best of my ability and harm no one along the way.

I put myself into all I do.

I don’t fear you not understanding me. I fear being mediocre.