So recent events have transpired in such a fashion that I cannot ignore the call I have received to renew my efforts for weekly updates concerning my interesting life. I know many of you choose to live life vicariously through me and your incessant pleas for information regarding my life (and thus yours through me) have, until this point fallen on deaf ears. Well, no longer, I have decided to resume my editorialization of the world as I see it.
Though I will admit, I have decided to take a slightly different slant this time around, rather than solely providing witty commentary on the events transpiring within my realm, I will address any topic I see fit concerning life, spirituality (and I warn you in advance, my first few weeks may be a bit heavy on this end, I recently had the experience of teaching again and it reminded me of my thirst to use the talents God gave me), the internet (I have no shame, I will blatantly plagiarize whenever I see fit, though I suppose if I cite my source it isn’t really plagiarism), or whatever else tickles my fancy.
Many of you will be new to the Derrik Filippo experience, or at least new to the written aspect of my wit. Should you decide that you do not wish to participate in any weekly update from me, and feel the effort of selecting my email and clicking the delete button is too difficult (or creating a rule that automatically sends everything from me into your spam folder, for the more technically inclined) then please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution. However, know this, each person on this distribution list (fortunately, this time around I have learned the valuable art of BCC) was handpicked by myself because at some point throughout my life you have made an impact; for that I thank you.
Now for a more serious note, the drawback of relying on the written form of communication is that much is often lost when it comes to the nonverbal forms of communication. Things like facial expressions and tones are difficult to convey and are often overlooked. Most of my discerning readers, of which you are counted (flattery can get you anywhere), have probably already noticed that I tend to employ a heavily sarcastic tone in much of my writing. While this is typically true, it is not always the case, I will attempt to make clear distinctions concerning my tone when it comes to addressing more serious topics (such as this paragraph). Additionally, you have probably noticed that my writing style comes across as slightly egotistical and arrogant; relax, I don’t really think of myself in this manner, I just find it entertaining to think of a world that revolves around me (it doesn’t) and writing helps me to imagine this world. I will admit that my wife did marry Mr. Right (first name Always), but the unintended consequence was that she became Mrs. Right and as a result she frequently keeps me in check.
While my regular readers will probably dwindle down to my grandparents, my mother, and occasionally my little sister after the first couple of weeks, my hopes are that at some point along the road I can return the smile and/or the wisdom you have shared with me in the past.
Seeing as how the previous bit of writing presents a significant amount of text (TL;DR, Google it if you don’t understand) here is a picture of my oldest (guy) cousin on the Filippo side, with the re-election of Obama there have been significant changes to the apparel of military personnel, specifically concerning winter BDUs.
Given the length introduction I will try to keep the remainder of my email fairly short, unfortunately the events of the past 3 weeks have caused such a significant shift in my thinking that there are certain aspects I cannot afford to gloss over. The following commentary is serious business and should not be interpreted in a humorous light, unless otherwise told to do so.
Let me start by saying that the church and Sunday School class Leslie and I have the opportunity to be a part of during our stay in Colorado were filled with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Their kindness and hospitality were unmatched by any other place we have ever lived.
Three weeks ago, when our departure from Colorado was announced I was invited to teach the lesson in our Sunday School class on our last week there, it was significant because Exodus 4 (a continuation of the study we had been doing in Exodus) contained several verses that I had been anxious to discuss. During the week of Thanksgiving I worked on preparing my lesson; by Wednesday I had it 90% complete and I was on my way home from the job site. I have an hour and a half drive each way so I have a lot of time on my hands, on my way home I was thinking and praying. I began to thank God for the class we had been a part of and I asked Him for a way to show them how much of an impact they had had on Leslie and I. It was during this time that God convinced me that the Scripture he wanted me to teach on was not in Exodus 4, rather, it was in John 13. This is the passage where Christ washes his disciple’s feet. It struck me that this was possibly the single most selfless act of love recorded in Scripture outside of His death on the cross.
Thanksgiving Day we were invited into the home of a family that truly had a special impact on us during our stay in Colorado; we were invited to become a part of their family for a while. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in their home and it further solidified the fact that God’s message for me on Sunday was to be one of love, humility, and service.
As many of you know I am not a very emotional person, I have bought into the lie that our culture has sold us that men are not created to be emotional beings; this is only made stronger by my logical and methodical personality. I am definitely a thinker, not a feeler. However, starting off that week, God began to erode that thought ever so slowly. By Thursday, I was beginning to understand that the moment described in John 13 was a very emotional time for Jesus… it was not an action that could be approached with stoicism. By Friday I realized that I could not teach a lesson on John 13 and ignore the emotion behind it, in fact, as I typed up my notes that evening I was nearly brought to tears just pondering the love shown by our class and the love I had for them in return. Finally I was getting it.
Our class had decided to make our last Sunday all about us, I was going to teach SS, after service we were going to go to lunch with the members of our class, later that afternoon the 3 daughters of one of the couples in our class had invited me (and Leslie) to go play laser tag (yea, I’m that awesome), and then that evening our class had been invited over to that same couple’s home for food, fellowship, and fun. Needless to say it was going to be a busy day.
Sunday morning I woke up early to look over my lesson and pray over each member of the class. It was during this time that I first felt some discomfort in my stomach. Leslie and I made it into church at our normal time, but at this point I was feeling very ill (nausea). Long story short, I spent the entire class in the restroom hovering over the toilet undecided on whether I was going to keep yesterday evening’s dinner down. This didn’t bode well for the rest of the day either. After class was over I managed to make it out of the restroom long enough to talk to Leslie for a few moments. Saying goodbye to these people was important to us, so we decided to push our departure out another week. I promptly went home to sleep, leaving Leslie to make apologies and clean up the scheduling mess.
All day Sunday and Monday I was in utter emotional turmoil; why had God allowed me to get sick? Wasn’t this lesson one that He had led me to in the first place? By Tuesday I had begun to settle down and to realize that it didn’t really matter, what had happened, happened and it was entirely probable that I would never understand the why. That said, I didn’t know what I was going to teach on the following Sunday (our class had graciously agreed to a redo for all the activities originally scheduled on the first day of my illness), afterall, the teacher had heroically taken charge and opened up discussion on John 13 in my unexpected absence. I already had the lesson for Exodus 4 typed out, but I felt that God had specifically led me to John 13. Wednesday, I had the opportunity to pray with a dear friend and mentor, and he reminded me that my illness hadn’t changed anything; God had still led me to teach on John 13.
The rest of the week was very awkward for me, I was still very ill, and each day God was continuing to mold me and reveal to me the emotion behind that moment in time. I was beginning to internalize it; I was really beginning to understand on a whole other level what the love that Christ felt. By Sunday I was a wreck, I still wasn’t feeling any better and I was filled with a level of compassion I have never approached before. The plus side was I was 100% certain of what God was calling me to teach on and it was something He had spent the week teaching me.
The lesson was awesome; I was filled with such fire and such passion, but at the same time an overwhelming love and compassion. I was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to teach on that subject. The rest of service was a whirlwind, I was so filled with excitement that I honestly don’t remember a whole lot of what went on during service; however, what came after was completely unexpected. It wasn’t unexpected in the sense that I didn’t know what was coming, I had been told that the senior pastor wanted to pray for us before we left. What I was completely unprepared for was the level of emotion that was getting ready to sweep through him (the senior pastor), Leslie, and myself.
The senior pastor called us up in front of the church and started to relate what an impact we had had on them, it was during this time that he and Leslie began to tear up; at that point I lost it. Here was this man, who I had known for less than six months, expressing a level of love I was only just beginning to understand. The entire church came forward and laid hands on us and prayed for us, sending us off like we were sponsored missionaries or something. It was incredible! Never before had I seen or experienced such raw emotion from so many people directed at me.
I say all this to make one point, as prayed on Monday I prayed for one thing I have never prayed for, in fact, it’s something I usually shy away from; I prayed that God would continue to soften my heart. I prayed that I would continue to be tender and receptive to His love; that I would not harden myself again, but that I would be willing to feel and express any emotion that He gives me. Wow!
I apologize for being long winded, but this one was important. I promise that in the future I’ll at least try to keep these things under 2 pages (including pictures). Consider this your reward for reading all the way to the end, next week I’ll recount my laser tagging victory… assuming something more interesting doesn’t come up between now and then.