I’m going to quote one of my favorite rappers, Mr. Shawn Carter:
“Allow me to reintroduce myself…”
Some of you might think you know me. Some of you might miss me a lot (aww, that’s so kind of you. I miss you too!). Some of you might simply wonder: “Who does this foolio think he is?”. I AM A VER– *ahem*. I am a very important and interesting person, thank you very much.
If I haven’t seen you in quite a while, I apologize. We should really make plans to hang out soon. If you haven’t seen me in a while, I might want to warn you that I’m looking a little different these days. In the last 2 months or so, I have gone ahead and lost a bit of weight (currently 33 lbs. lighter), I have stretched my earlobes, and I have procured a nice tattoo. I was asked today if I’m rebelling against something, with all these modifications and changes.
The best way to explain this, is to say that I’m finally starting to arrive. I am usually fashionably late to the party, however, it’s usually a pretty good turnout.
This is the image that I got tattooed on my arm last saturday. I got it tattooed on the inside of my right arm. Fancy yes?
My original plan was to have a line of text be the tattoo. It was going to be something along the lines of: “Never settle for being a carbon copy of you.” The basic idea is that I feel like, the duration of this year has really helped me grow. I was able to let go of some big baggage, and I think that I’m definitely on the way to really becoming/showing the real Justin that I’ve been growing into. The base of this design is the logo of the city of Oakland. I chose this, because I believe this journey started in Oakland and materialized itself in Oakland. 6 years ago, I was part of an urban mission trip that took place here. I learned a lot about myself here, and I felt the calling to reside here. It took me about 4 years to actually move here.
The group that I was here with, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, was an organization that I wanted to work for. That was the idea before I was done with college, I thought that I would be able to jump into that life and start doing that for a living making a difference in the lives of college students. I decided that I wanted to do this really from the beginning of my time in the fellowship. The actual transition from my idea to the realization of the opportunity to be on staff, it took about 3.5 years. (Noticing a pattern?)
When I finally had the chance to move to Oakland, it was at the hands of my career as a staff worker. Truth be told, I couldn’t really live the life of a staff worker, because I owed too much money to the gov’t. (YAY expensive diplomas). 4 years after the initial desire, I was finally in Oakland, but I wasn’t really there. I was too into working, and I didn’t get any time to really insert myself into the community. It really took me almost 2 years here for me to feel comfortable enough to actually put myself out there.
So the trend is, I get an idea, and I want to do something. However, I’m usually not ready when I want to do it. This past year in Oakland has been an awakening. The tree is a symbol for patience and growth. Here one on hand, it represents where so much happened. On the other hand, it’s a reminder that good things take time. It takes a lifetime for a tree to mature and show itself. It does not have days or weeks to prove itself.
I am finally feeling like it’s ok to put myself out into the world. There is a lot to go, I am far from who I want to end up being, but it’s a lifetime challenge to become that person. I have nothing to prove to anyone, but myself. God planted the seed, and knew what He was growing. I just have to be patient enough to see/allow it to happen.