I apologize for the radio silence the last month or so. Things have been hectic in the Clouse house. My wife and I are making a big push to try and get her bakery up and running, and things are going really well. We’ve nearly got all of our Kick Starter money raised, and we’re almost certain we’ve got our hands on a kitchen and a space at the Farmers’ Market. It appears all systems are go for liftoff.

As part of that, I’ve been having to fill some new roles of late. Namely, CTO and CFO of an unstarted  start-up. Between revenue projections, creating an excel file that automatically compares unit prices of ingredients we need to buy, and trying to complete a pro forma, I’m finding an analytical part of myself that I never really knew was there. The nerdish side of me enjoys tinkering with the numbers and trying to make everything fit. Unfortunately, it comes with a price.

After spending so much time in this altered headspace, my desire to write anything has plummeted. A while back I suggested that perhaps I have a finite amount of creativity that can be spoken for at any length of time, and anything beyond that becomes a drain. I fear the same may be true for intensive thought. The last couple weeks have required so much time and attention that once I have a free moment, all I want to do is completely veg out.

I’m trying to walk the line between discipline and grace, which is a tricky thing to do sometimes. One side of me is cracking a whip while screaming in a German accent that I must obey the regimen I created a while back. The opposite side is essentially a hippy just telling me to take it easy and positing that perhaps, things are “far out, man”. I suppose this is always the dispute when grace and discipline meet. Where do you draw the line? When does the freedom grace offers become an excuse, and when does the strength of discipline become guilt?

For a long time now, I’ve just been so thrilled with myself for getting pieces of my act together and going back to church and taking Communion again that I haven’t asked myself for much more than that. Coming from a state of nothing, even the little things mean we’re doing more. And I think that’s fine… for a time. Lately, though, I think God is starting to push me to go a little further.

Going to church and taking communion aren’t filling my soul the way they were even just a month ago. There has been a lot of external changes that are easy to blame, but actually, I think it has nothing to do with anything but me. God has called me to go deeper. That’s one of the absolute earmarks of being me. Deep thought, always. Anything less than that is less than my full potential. I think I’m starting to feel that.

There was a time for simple Grace and understanding. God was (and is) exceedingly patient, being willing to wait for nearly a year now while I did little more than show up to church and occasionally think about him. I think that has taken me as far as it can. If I’m going to continue to be better, I think I’m fast approaching the time in which I’m going to need to enact a little discipline. I’m not even talking about anything extreme here, no self-flagellation required. I’m relatively sure if I studied the Bible even a little, or thought about saying a prayer outside of “Communion time”, I’d be about where God wants me for this point in time.

I think maybe spirituality is a little like driving a car with a manual transmission… There are steps that have to be taken if you want to continue moving forward successfully. For nearly a year I’ve been in first gear, but I’m starting to come up on a hill. I could stay in first gear, and get up that hill (probably) but the time and effort required in doing so is actually greater than the cost of stepping on the clutch and going up to second (and beyond).

I’ve previously had to learn about skipping gears, going too fast too soon, and generally navigating the spiritual landscape. I think I’m at a point in which I’ve internalized these lessons well enough that I may be able to go the distance now. At least, I hope so. If nothing else, having God as my co-pilot and a Jesus bobblehead on the dash means there are plenty of players for license plate bingo.


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