Gotta Take Leaps Of Faith Sometimes, Bruh

A few days ago, I got boba with a friend who noted how much I had changed in the past three years. Not change as in, “Oh, you grew your mustache.” Change as in, I’ve matured a lot. Mainly in the way I handle relationships.

Filmmaking used to be my god. My master, or whatever analogy works. I used to suck at collaborating because I liked being a one man show. Yes, it was stupid. I remember pacing back and forth, alone in a room, after a fight with my editor. He thought I was being too controlling, practically editing the entire film for him. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t just want the film cut my way; I wanted to cut the film myself. Enter my internal monologue.

SMEAGOL-JOSH
Look, you idiot. This isn’t the first time this has happened to you. You need to stop being so power-hungry and let others contribute to this project.

GOLLUM-JOSH
HE’S RUINING THE PROJECT, PRECIOUS! Your editing is so much better! This film could be our ticket to success, and you want to leave it at the hands of this dude we met a couple weeks ago???

SMEAGOL-JOSH
You were once a bad editor as well. How do you expect people to learn if they aren’t given the chance? Besides, what’s more important? People or the project?

GOLLUM-JOSH
THE PROJECT, ME PRECIOUS PROJECT!

SMEAGOL-JOSH
(sigh) You’re hopeless. You need to make a decision. Like, right now. Either trust your editor and let him do his work, or completely take over the film and ruin your friendship forever.

GOLLUM-JOSH
WE KNOW WHAT TO DOOOO!!!

SMEAGOL-JOSH
Someone get this dude a breath mint.

Sadly, this wasn’t too far from the actual dialogue inside my head. It took a while, but I finally understood how unimportant projects were compared to deep friendships and great collaborations.

You know, come to think of it…I’m not sure if I ever officially apologized to the editor. I’m going to do that right now.

(break)

Okay, I’m back. Apparently I did apologize already, and that was kind of awkward and kind of funny. We’re still great friends.

I never want to hold back from apologizing, though. Never. Especially to Jenine. Wow, I’ve owed her a lot of apologies.

Being that she’s my first official relationship, I was bound to make mistakes and I knew it. The problem was that her previous boyfriends were pretty awful, making it easy for me to go, “Hey, at least I’m not doing what so-and-so did!”

It took a while for me to learn that being “not as bad” doesn’t make you “good.”

I thought I was self-sacrificial. Humble. Godly. But my definition of those words came from a twisted narrative that put me in the spotlight. This was MY story, and everyone else was a side character.

For example, my definition of humility was someone telling me, “Wow Josh, that was such an amazing film you made!” to which I would reply, “Oh, it was nothing. God gave me the gifts!”

Pause. That’s not actually humility. I’m still getting praise and glory. Yet I lived in this egotistic bubble for quite a while.

The big change in my life was moving to California. I always knew it would be a huge transition, but I never realized how much moving to the other side of the country would affect my emotional and spiritual maturity. In fact, I barely recognized it as it was happening.

See, it was easy to be surrounded by friends and family who knew and loved me since I was a child. And I knew them as well. I knew the right things to say that would make them go, “Josh, you’re a great guy.” I never had any major conflict that would push my limits of being a good person.

I’m not saying I was a total a**hole. I’m just admitting that I had a lot of growing to do. And still do.

It’s scary, isn’t it? To realize that you’re not going to be the same person in a few years that you are today?

Or maybe you will be. There’s a way that can happen. Stay in your comfort zones. Live within your limits. Surround yourself with people who are easy to love. You’ll feel like a fantastic person.

When I moved to the West Coast, I met a lot of people. More new people than I had ever met in my entire life. EVERYONE I met was a new person, except for Brian. Many of them were not like me. They weren’t all Christians. They weren’t all Asians. They weren’t all homeschooled or had an East Coast mentality. Yes, most of them were filmmakers, but that’s beside the point.

For the first time in my life, I had to deal with people who didn’t know me as Josh Jackson from CEMC, or Josh Jackson from Life Covenant Church, or Josh Jackson, friend of my relative, relative of my friend, and so on.

They just knew me as Josh Jackson, stranger. I had a lot of first impressions to make and relationships to build.

It was difficult. But it formed me. It made me realize that not everything, ha, is about me! And I’m so thankful that it did.

I still can be a selfish person, but I’m slowly becoming more aware. And like they say, knowing is half the battle. One that I intend to fight.

But none of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t moved out of my comfort zone, or taken a leap of faith. I am so grateful for everyone in my life, family and friends, old and new, who have stuck with me on this journey. Thanks to you, I think I’m finally learning what it means to love without limits. My friends on the East Coast gave me the foundation. My friends on the West Coast helped me put it into practice.

Anyhoo, enough about me. I hope you all have a fantastic day or night, depending where in the world you are. I want to make a joke or something to end this on a light note, but…nah.

Josh out.

Love Doesn’t Have Opinions

Ugh, I probably shouldn’t be blogging at three in the morning when I have to be up in five hours. I’m seeing Avengers at ten thirty tomorrow…well, technically today, and I don’t want to fall asleep for a second. Not that I think I will. Sorry, off topic.

I’ve been reading this book called Everybody Always by Bob Goff. Just a simple book reminding me to love everybody. Always. Hence the title. But a small line in the book blew my mind.

We start to see that our time here isn’t meant to be spent forming opinions about the people we meet. It’s an opportunity to draw the kind of circles around them that grace has drawn around us, until everybody is on the inside.

I have a terrible habit. Whenever I meet someone new, my mind starts flagging them for good or bad qualities, like a TSA agent scanning for metal objects. This helps me form an opinion about their character, to see if they’re someone I’d like to hang out with in the future, or avoid.

Does this person seem like they have an agenda? Red flag. Are they talking about themselves too much? Red flag. Do they not have a sense of humor? Red flag.

I tell myself I do this out of self-defense, but really it’s just fear.

I don’t always do this. Sometimes I pour myself out to people when I feel like it. I have a lot of great friendships that were born this way. One time, I was at a party where I knew mostly everyone, except this new guy. Let’s call him Hester. Hester only knew one person at the party. For some odd reason, I decided to strike up a chat and be the friendliest, most welcoming person I could be. I honestly have no idea why. It was one of my good days.

Hester continued to come to our future parties, even when the one person he used to know moved away. He’s just a really cool dude who’s fun to hang around.

I never did my flagging thing with Hester. We just got to know each other as friends.

What if I treated everyone like that? Even people I might have heard iffy things about.

What if I stopped trying to form opinions about the people I meet and just tried loving them instead?

I think I’d have a lot more positive encounters. And a lot more friends.

Josh out.

Giving Up

One all-nighter a year.

At least once a year, I find myself needing to stay up twenty-four hours straight to get a job done. Guess that’s what happens when you freelance. And procrastinate.

It’s not healthy. I went to sleep at eight in the morning yesterday, then woke up at two in the afternoon. Not a great idea when I had to play music for my girlfriend’s school fundraiser the next day.

I used to lead worship at my uncle’s church once a month. The more I did it, the less planning there was. My best friend Timmy and I would figure out the closing song five minutes before we went up on stage. We just improvised. Felt the moment. I thought playing for a middle school would be the same.

Except nothing worked. The guitar I was provided didn’t connect to the amplifier. Battery dead. None of the music stands looked safe enough to put my laptop on. We had no monitor. Worst of all, we didn’t practice. At all. And Jenine and I had to play for an hour.

What ended up happening was I played several of the simplest four-chord pop songs while Jenine sang. It wasn’t a bad start. However, twenty minutes in, I felt the fatigue. I had barely eaten and my knees were weak.

So I stopped playing.

“Just play some Youtube songs,” I told Jenine.

I sat down. Started using my phone. I’ve never been at one of these fundraisers before, but apparently people walk around and bid on stuff. Maybe the school could buy some new music stands.

For the next half an hour, I slouched in a corner with a numbness in my brain. This is awful. I was supposed to help my girlfriend with her job, have some fun playing music together in the process. Instead, nothing worked.

And I had given up.

We fought in the car for about half an hour afterwards. Fighting is always weird. You know the two of you will either end up reconciling or become more distant. Every word counts. But you’re tired and fueled by pure emotion. And it’s even more dangerous to leave any hanging threads. Unresolved conflict will lead to more problems down the road.

In hindsight, I’m able to analyze all that. In the moment, we were lucky to come to an understanding that even though things didn’t go as planned, we both still deeply cared about each other. The heart of the argument was that she felt like I didn’t care enough about her or her job to do my best. In reality, I was just tired and frustrated from sleeping at 8 AM. Not a valid excuse for giving up, so I apologized.

Her mom called midway. “Where are you guys?”

“We’re outside,” I explained. “Just talking.”

We went inside her house after hugging it out. Her parents were waiting for us.

“Were you guys fighting?” her mom asked jokingly.

“No,” said Jenine, laughing it off.

“Yes,” I replied.