It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. Over a year, in fact. And though there are many reasons why, I’d love to say it mostly had to do with life simply getting in the way. While it’s true that life suddenly became busier once I became a father and moved to Greece, that’s not the complete story. There is a deeper, not so convenient reason.
The primary reason for my silence is because I have been a coward.
Years ago, I asked a friend to read my a few of my posts and create a painting based on them. It was part of an experiment on my part, for though I wasn’t an artist like he was, I had my own ideas of what grizzlychadams.com would look like as a painting. I imagined an enraged head exploding much like what is shown on the warheads candy packaging with visuals of all my grievances and tribulations spreading across the canvass. I was curious to see how much, if at all, our visions differed from each other. This is what he drew.
At first, I didn’t think much of it other than how interesting it was that he interpreted my blog in such a unique way. But several years later, I look at this with astonishment, and with an unnerving feeling of how accurate he was. It forced me to look deep within myself and pony up to reality, however inconvenient it may be… that for most of my adult life I have been going through the motions… at work, with relationships, and most frightening of all, in my faith.
Being a Christian was easy when I was growing up. I lived in a fairly conservative community where there was no threat of persecution for stating your Christian values. Naturally, with little reason to believe I, or any of us for that matter would ever be attacked, I didn’t take my study of scripture seriously, and when the time came, I was left not knowing how to defend it. This isn’t necessarily a knock on our parents, pastors, or any of the other authority figures who raised our generation, and in some respects, I feel we owe them some gratitude. I feel so blessed to have grown up in the 80’s and 90’s, a time when it was still generally safe to let kids play outside unsupervised, where the biggest political issue of our time was pro-Sega vs. Pro-Nintendo (and believe me, battle lines were drawn) and counter-culture entities like The Simpson, Beavis and Butthead and the Alternative Rock movement were deemed “edgy.”
…Gosh, what I would give to go back to such an innocent time…
And call me sheltered, but I got the sense that even through our differences, most Americans agreed on a higher level that first and foremost we lived in a society that not only revered God and Country, but saw both as forces for good. I found this culture to be enjoyable and optimistic, and in it, I was comfortable.
And therein lies the problem. Comfort.
With comfort came complacency, which followed a lack of preparedness for what it took to live out my faith. Starting with college and expanding beyond, I was exposed to ideas that contradicted what I was taught and didn’t have good answers for. While living in an unsupervised environment I was faced with a plethora of temptations, many of which I succumbed to. I even dealt with my fair share of heartbreak, and over time, these events contributed to a descent into nihilism much like a frog slowly being acclimated to boiling water. Throughout it all, I still claimed I had faith, yet it was only on a superficial level, for my actions were in direct disobedience to what the creator I claimed to worship commanded. Even worse, I did so with an unrepentant heart, and that nihilism started to morph into a form of narcissism. I didn’t obey God, for I worshipped myself and followed my own desires. In essence, I became my own god.
Then 2020 happened.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a few reality checks along the way that swayed me back in the right direction, if ever so slightly, but nothing like the smack in the face that was the year 2020. Within an instant, it was as if the entire world began crumbling before us. Beginning with the pandemic, each passing day seemed to bring a new crisis. Lockdowns, toilet paper shortage, mask mandates, George Floyd, riots in the streets, election integrity, January 6th, vaccine mandates, and we were barely into 2021. The list goes on and on, with each week adding something even crazier than the week before. I can only imagine if Billy Joel wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire” today. It would take a double album just to make the last 30 months fit.
This was no ordinary blitzkrieg, for even the beleaguered quarterback taking sack after sack with little time to catch his breath before the next pounding knows that at some point, the play clock will turn zero and the game will be over. These attacks kept coming with no play clock, no timeouts, and no signs of stopping. This was spiritual warfare. Warfare that I was ill-equipped for.
Eventually, I tapped out.
I turned off social media, not for noble reasons, but because I could no longer handle it. I hid myself from much of the world, believing if I kept my head down and kept a low profile, the spirit of the age would just pass me by without any trouble, that I didn’t have to be involved in any of this. And sure, at the onset, like many of us I was caught flat-footed, so understandably, I did what I was told. But as 15 days turned to months, and the months started closing in on years, I was still wearing my mask, both literally and figuratively. I was still going through the motions.
“But I couldn’t question anything or else I’d be cancelled!” Oh, how I wish that narrative was true, for what better excuse would there be to remain inactive. But that’s not the case. I didn’t even attempt to question. No, the sad truth is, I was too much of a chicken even to find out.
For what if I did? Would I lose friends? Might I lose an argument and look like a fool in public? Would I lose favor with those whom for some reason, I was so desperately trying to reach and seek approval from? Would my past sins come out to haunt me if I spoke up? Might I lose that book deal I imagined was going to magically come to fruition if only I stayed quiet and did nothing for just a little longer?
The longer this went on, the harder it was for me to accept that this was my fate, or any of our fates, to just be a cog in the machine doing the same motion day after day until we dropped dead. The answer was yes, and yes to all. Yes, if I went down this route, I’d be confronted—forced to give up my idols, the ones I had be clamoring to my whole life, the ones that were spiritually draining, of which the devil was more than happy to keep feeding me. That was his plan, and so far, it was working out pretty well for him. But not for me.
I wouldn’t accept that. I couldn’t. Deep in my soul there was a tugging, an urge to change course, to draw from a different source other than the cesspool that had long ago been corrupted by a degenerate culture. Did I know what to do? Not quite, but I knew where to look. I turned to a place I knew that had answers, a place that had assisted people like me, and frankly, people more righteous than me for two millennia. For the first time in my life, I read the entire bible, something I should’ve done decades ago. And as it turns out, history has a tendency to repeat itself.
I don’t remember the reason, but out of all the books in the bible and all the logical starting points, I chose to read Jeremiah first. As a profit, Jeremiah was tasked with warning the Jewish people that the Southern Kingdom of Judah (the only one left at this time for the Northern Kingdom, Israel, had fallen to the Assyrians a few generations before) was about to fall. Judah had been committing several atrocities ranging from idol worship to even child sacrifice. During this time, they had received bountiful mercy and plenty of chances to repent, but you can only turn your back on God for so long. God’s judgement was imminent with an impending invasion of the Babylonians, and invade they did, just as Jeremiah prophesized.
Now, we may not be offering our children up as sacrifices to Molech, but if we take a serious look at ourselves as a nation, with the amount of support for unfettered abortion access and the rising insistence that we push transgenderism onto children, we aren’t that far off. And sorry, the rest of us aren’t off the hook even if we publicly state we don’t believe in that sort of stuff. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have plenty of idols and overall wickedness in our lives of which we stubbornly fail to correct, and believe me, I certainly have my fair share of course correcting to do. So, when I look at the last 30 months, it wasn’t just a wake-up call. It was a warning shot across the brow.
It was a stark reminder that in fact we are in the midst of an ongoing battle against the forces of good and evil, and that we’re not allowed to be neutral. For by staying silent, we aid the side of evil. It’s also a reminder of his mercy, that even with the last 30 months of which our utter disobedience has been on display, we still have a shot of redemption. We can repent and change our ways. We can still be saved… I can be saved, whether it be in this life or the afterlife. And we need more Jeremiah’s out there willing to speak up, even when it seems that nobody is listening.
The thought of mortality runs through my head more often than I’d like to admit these days, and each day I grow older, the more prevalent it gets. Yes, death is a very real concept I think about; and add in the threat of nuclear war being thrown around lately or whatever the next ingredient of turmoil to be stirred into the pot next week will be coupled with the fact that I’m at the sunset of my 30’s, it becomes harder for me to ignore that fact that someday, my spirit will leave this place. And on that day, what am I going to say when I come face to face with my creator? How will I answer to him, not just the sins in my life, but for my inability to do good when given the chance? It scares me, for if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I like the answers to those questions.
I’d be foolish to act as though I have the answers, not just to those questions, but to also get us out of the mess we’re in. Perhaps it’s too late for that, but even if that’s so, I’m still alive, I still have a voice, and because I’m still here by His grace, I’m still commanded to serve and obey Him. Ultimately, this means I’m no longer allowed to stay silent, and though there is much more to say than can fit in one post, I know where to start. I can start by boldly proclaiming my faith.
I am a Christian. I believe in the God of Abraham and Moses. I believe in the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I believe he died on the cross, was buried, rose from the dead, and walked out of that tomb like a boss. That because He conquered death, I don’t have to live in fear, not even in the face of death, for He has promised me paradise. That through Him, I can speak the truth and no longer have to be silent in the face of evil.
I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I’ve spent way too much time indulged in drunkenness, which led to precious years wasted. Like many men, I’ve fallen prey to lustful thoughts and desires, and lacked the self-control to not act upon them. I put myself and my idols above my God and let my pride get in the way of doing what was right. I have been selfish, I have used people, and I’ve allowed my anger to get the best of me, time and time again. To sum it up, I have not lived up to His standard, and because of this, I deserve death. And even as I write this, I know I will still fail several times over. I will fall short of His glory and will need to ask for forgiveness time and time again.
BUT… because He, Jesus, God in the flesh who lived a perfect life free of sin, took on all my guilt, shame, and sin upon himself when they nailed him to the cross, I know I have been saved. That I have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in paradise. So, the least… the very least I can do is to obey him, to be courageous in my convictions, and serve him accordingly.
In closing, I always meant for grizzlychadams.com to be a fun, satirical medium for me to express myself. I’ve used it as a creative outlet to take the absurd, self-imposed stresses and 1st world problems of my life and spin it in a way that brings joy and laughter to people. Often, however, it was being used more as an escape. This isn’t necessarily bad in moderation, but given the times of which we live, I think I’m being called into a different direction, a calling I can no longer escape from.
I pray for a day when I can resume the Grizzly Chadams tradition, or at least find a good balance to provide that humorous escape I envisioned it to be. But for now, it needs a bit of a revision, for I am declaring that I will no longer go through the motions of this life. After all, doing so would not be honoring my God.
Thank was a deep blog post Zachary… you are an awesome human, proud to call you son! One more sleep!
Very proud of you my friend!
Dear Zachary, my brother in Christ, thank you for this amazing post! I know your parents brought you up in a strong Christian environment, so I rejoice with them over your announcement. Also, I hope you are in community with fellow believers, and that you use your spiritual gifts in ways to honor our God.