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Monday, April 30, 2012

"Not how, but what?"

The conversations that happen at night...

This past weekend, I drove down to Asheville, NC to a retreat center where the last time I was there two years ago, I had a moment in a prayer garden that has left an imprint on me ever since. 

Saturday night, I returned to the garden, my personal garden of Gethsemane as I’ve coined it, and returned to the spot where I knelt almost two years ago. 

It was deep, in the darkest part of the thicket with just the light of the moon and distant street lights revealing what was there.

I remembered it like I was just there.  I knelt in the same spot where I knelt almost two years ago.  My thoughts were on Mimi, the same Mimi I had cried about Senior year, the same Mimi I fell in love with again, and for good reason, the same Mimi I want to find out if we can make it work for good.

But my thoughts were on her because I was frustrated.  We had just talked the day before, and she was telling me about teaching opportunities that came up that sounded very promising.  Insult to injury, they were at schools I would love to be working at myself.

Finally, I let it out.  “Why does she get to know?   She always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and now she’s a teacher, soon with a Master’s degree, and she has an opportunity to teach at some really great schools.”  Then I started naming my other girlfriends I’ve been so envious of in the past.  She knew she wanted to be a nurse, she studied to be a nurse, and now she’s a nurse.  She knew her passion was music, she studied music, and now she’s a music teacher. 

“Why don’t I get to know, God?  It was never clear for me what I wanted to do with my life.  Why did they get to be so lucky?  Can’t you just let me know?”

I started thinking about the jobs I’ve applied for, the ones that have already said they’re moving on with the application process (i.e. not picking me), and getting angry at God for even getting my hopes up for something that wasn’t meant for me.  I started thinking about the jobs I was currently applying for, and how they’d be great, I would love them, but they don’t encompass my true passion.

“What is your true passion,” He asked me.

Before me was a bench, and Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit sat there in my imagination.  Then, Mary and Joseph, in the same seat, but not replacing them, just there as well.

Men, men’s ministry, I said in my head.

“What about men?”, He persisted.

I want ways for men to become alive, to be able to find their passions, so they can be better husbands, better fathers.


“Because the world needs better fathers,” and I started naming good fathers that I knew, “Like Steve, my dad, Mark, Bill Dillard” were names that came fresh off the top of my head. 


Because a lot of people are hurt because of their broken fathers.  I've seen, heard, and spoke to too many girls who have had a father who wasn't there or didn’t show enough love for them, or talked to guys who feel a part of them is missing because their father wasn't there to raise them right.  And maybe it’s not their fathers' fault because maybe they too didn’t have fathers to show them love either, but when does this cycle end? 

“So what are you going to do about it?”

It took me a moment.

He repeated: “If you could do anything, what would you do?”

It reminded me of a several weeks ago when my brother and I were talking about the winning the MegaMillions lottery jackpot.  It forced the question to me, what would I do if I didn’t have to worry about money?

“But I don’t know how I could----”

“Not how, but what.”

If there was a single book that has changed
my life, it is this one.
A must read for all men, in my opinion.
It reminded me how in Wild at Heart John Eldredge emphasizes how too many of us men concentrate and worry about how we’re going to get what we want, which prevents us from losing sight on pursuing actually what we want.  We let the how get in the way.

I repeated to God, “I know, I just don’t know how I could become---”

“Not how, but what.”

“I don’t know anything about publishing---“

“Not how, but what.”

“No one just sits there and says, OK, now I’m going to become a---“

“Not how, but what.”

“No one just says, “OK, now, today, I’m going to write a---“

“Not how, but what.”

“I mean look at Jason Evert, Matthew Kelly, Stephen King, John Eldredge, I’m sure they had other jobs while they---“

“Not how, but what.”

“But I just don’t know how---

“Not how, but what.  . .not how, but what. . .not how, but what . . .not how, but what.”

I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.  It was clear.

“An author.”

Memories of childhood Matthew flashed.  I had a list of things I wanted to be---a baseball player, an actor, a priest, but the last one I had settled on was, “An author.”

Flashes of my childhood journals, big and small, that I have stored all in a box in my closet at 1101 Queensbury.

Memories of my first piece of written work, a working autobiography called, “11 11/12 Years and Counting” flashed before me along with my first affirmation from my Language Arts teacher with a post-it-note attached, “You’re a gifted writer, Matt.  Keep it up!”

Fast forward to Seventh Grade, and my language arts class needed a class writer to represent everyone for the Halloween Story contest.  I was a unanimous vote, suggested by the teacher. 

Sophomore year, I submitted a Siddhartha Project, which was a collection of many Matt Aujero reflections.   My grade, 110, had a note, “Excellent job.  A fine read for me.”

My choice to join the newspaper staff over lacrosse, choir, cross country, and everything else that could’ve been my high school career.  Getting recognized as best high school newspaper in North Carolina.  Signing Ms. Combs ceiling of fame “NC State Champs!” with my name, realizing that everyone has a state champion to win, and we had won ours.

My words of always saying that “one day” I’m going to write a “book called” this or book called that.  Some of those titles already have outlines, but haven’t been touched since.  And I guess what I do on my blog is “kind of” already adding to the book that will “eventually” get written.  But why only “kind of” and why “eventually”? 

Whispers started to fill my head.

“You always knew, you always knew, you always knew, you always knew, you always knew, you always knew….you always knew...” repeated, over and over again.

You always knew, Matt.

An author, Matt Aujero.  That is your name, and that’s what you’re called to be.

As Matt Maher’s song goes, “This is the first, day, of the rest of your life…this is the first, day, of the rest of your life.”

“Father, I’m scared,” I finally said.  It was almost I had regretted knowing the answer to the question I desired.
Really God?

The conference theme came to my head: “Stand Firm…”

“…on water.” He added.  Earlier that night, Cooper Ray retold the story of Peter walking on water towards Jesus, falling only after he doubted and lost sight of Him.

Sigh.  “Right.” 

Not how, but what.


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