to be a sinking ship or a lighthouse.

'Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.'
-Haile Selassie

i wanted a lighthouse. maybe i was supposed to be the lighthouse. either way with the fact is at moments life has a way of slowly putting a pillow over your face as you try to sleep. a slow and steady suffocation, i wish it was all of a sudden so that you could instantly deal with it and leave it in yesterdays wake.

at moments this feels like such a negative world we live in, the only bright spots in it we ourselves must create for others.
i woke to the sounds of an argument or 'discussion' with a loved one, i can't seem to make them happy, or maybe they can't make themselves happy. either way i feel very responsible and helpless this many miles away.
some time ago i got news that a friend nearly killed himself because of depression, but one week ago i sat next to him. nearly in silence, talking to him about shallow instances and surface niceties. i wanted to go back in time and pull him away from himself, and the pain that surrounded him.

today as i walked through scranton warped tour someone from stage began to string the longest chain of swear words i had heard the entire tour and call for girls to take certain items of their clothing off. the person sitting behind one of the the merch tables had a cardboard sign asking for sexual favors, a fight broke out, a guy was groping his girlfriend right there in public, and then it began to rain, i felt it was so fitting.

i cannot allow myself to wallow in the mire of negativity for long, for mapping out the long and winding road of negativity means i must travel it to chart it. i allow myself to fail, for if i had never failed i could have never learned the lessons i hold dear. but as far as drowning in what i see all around me i refuse to watch from a distance simply shaking my head in pity. i am going to be the lighthouse that brings people to shore. i may lose some along the way, but all i can do is shine a light.

'Avoid destructive thinking. Improper negative thoughts sink people. A ship can sail around the world many, many times, but just let enough water get into the ship and it will sink. Just so with the human mind. Let enough negative thoughts or improper thoughts get into the human mind and the person sinks just like a ship.'
-Alfred A Montapert

sorry so random, just on my mind.


danny holland said…
negative thinking attracts negative thing to come your way. positive thinking brings positive results. it never fails. just keep your chin up.
miss lynn said…
Sometimes your writings could not come at a better time. I can relate to your feelings of disgust with the world sometimes. I make it a point to keep trying to see the good in every person and circumstance, though in today's society, that can be a difficult task. I don't consider your post quite so random. It was obviously on your heart for a reason, and sharing with us is very beneficial. Thank you Stephen! :)
anna said…
so lovely and such wonderful thoughts. every though, action, and word matters in this life.
Rover Fox said…
Once upon a time I was so hopless I sat in class and cried but went unnoticed only because of the hair that grew passed my eyes. I had lost every friend I had ever met, again. Who knew moving could be so painful.

As the days went by I soon realized that God had taken me from all that I was comfortable with to light a darkened part of our world. I was shocked to see and hear what goes on around me, and I strove to live by Gods ways through it all. This perservance became my grief, my joy.

My heart when out for my fallen brothers and sisters but realizing that only God can save them, I focused on what I can control, myself.

"As a child I dreamt of saving the world, but realized it would have none of it, as a man I dreamt of changing my nation, but was ignored, as an old man I dreamt of changing my family, but couldn't, and only now on my death bed do I realize I should've changed myself, then my town, then my nation, then maybe I could've changed the world." - Some Archbishop

I encourage you! Be that lighthouse, not all will follow, but all will see!

-Rover Fox
Hudson said…
That's all you can do Stephen. Be a light in darkness. It's a tragedy that we allow ourselves to become so concerned with things in our lives to a point where we completely lose the eternal perspective we've been given. Even more, so many people do not have an eternal perspective and never will. God left it up to our willing hearts.
themockingbyrd said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
themockingbyrd said…
We can't always make our loved ones happy, and it's hard to be okay with that--and similarly to the story you relate, this afternoon I found myself sitting in a car, surrounded by the residual smoke of cigarettes with almost nothing to say except cliches of faith so trite that I just didn't bother. I was listening to someone I love talk about depression and being suicidal, and I wanted nothing so much as to scream messages of hope and love to the unbearable pain of the person's past.

Seeing and being exposed to the scummy, insufficient band-aids people patch over their hopelessness and need can drag us down so quickly.

I think you've got the right idea, though, Stephen--the only answer or solace in the face of the crushing lack of hope in our world is to work as hard as you can within your personal sphere of influence, and I want to affirm that you have been that lighthouse, and that God has used you powerfully, and will keep doing so.

If I can be so crass as to offer a suggestion, I find that some kind of superficial pleasure (normally in my case, it's something like a cup of tea and a short story by P.G. Wodehouse, or a conversation with someone that always makes me smile) enjoyed completely for its own sake can clear up the nagging negativity.

I'm praying for you; may there be some clearing of your sky in the near future.
Aimee said…
Thank you so much for writing this. I have been feeling the exact same way for so long, just sort of slogged down with all the tragedies I see in life, and I feel like I'm missing the good. I don't know what has me being so negative lately, I know I have a wonderful life, but sometimes it's hard to know how you can be the lighthouse. I also want to be a shining beacon for someone, for anyone, but sometimes I get discouraged because I doubt myself and my ability to make that difference. I pray that I won't sink, as you say, but rise out of the negativity. I pray every night for the strength to do this. In the meantime I'm comforted that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Thank you for lifting my spirits today. :-)
Chris said…
not random at all. very fitting. your actions and words do lead people a shore, or keep them afloat anyways. perfectly stated thoughts.
Nicole Rork said…
never stop believing in the best of people even at the worst of times. your positive outlook on life is an influence to so many people. thank you.

Chad Reed said…
I read a blog earlier this week by one of my friends who is doing ministry with the homeless in Toronto this summer, and he just made the analogy of God being his lighthouse and himself being merely the vessel.

You can read the full analogy here:

God bless as you shine God's light onto others.
Latrina said…
Wow, so fitting. I really needed to hear this. Negativity has also been overwhelming me & I was just about to head out of state for a week. I'm glad I decided to stop by here & read what you had posted. I, too, want to be a lighthouse.

I'm deeply sorry that you are having to deal with this. The world is full of disgust, but there is also so much good in this world as well. And it's important to surround yourself with love & positive thoughts so you don't miss those good opportunities.

It's early here but there's so much I would like to say. Maybe another time then. :P

I don't think this was random. I appreciate it and really needed to hear this. Negative thinking only brings in more negativity, but positive thinking brings on so much GOOD. Plus, with out all the bad in this world, we wouldn't have anything to accomplish, to learn from. So in a way, the bad can always be good. :)

God bless, Stephen. And I hope you continue to be a lighthouse. You are certainly one for me.
laura said…
wow, i was just talking about this sort of thing with my family.
switchkosterice said…
i know what it feels like to hear your loved ones fighting every morning. i have been dealing with it for years. i do feel responsible. if i weren't here...this wouldn't be happening, right?


we're getting somewhere. the only way out might not be the most desirable way, but it is the safest.

sometimes, i find the greatest strength and encouragement in other people's seemingly random thoughts. this is one of those times. thank you.
Thank you for writing this.
raechel said…
Thanks for the reminder; it's so sad that the world makes it inevitable that standards will drop. All these claims of increasing liberalness are merely the the societal acceptances of open sin.
wow said…
I've never been on your site before and you apologized for it being random but... you couldn't have written that at any better time, thanks man.
wallflower said…
happy birthday stephen. i hope you had a great day. you deserve it.
Aimee said…
So I heard it's your birthday...and I just wanted to wish you a happy one. You deserve it. :-D
Anonymous said…
I really hate sounding like a stupid sycophant, but if it makes you feel better, you have been a lighthouse for me : /
phlp314 said…
you kind of reminded me of the song "Shipwreck" by Starfield. it's a goodie.

Stephen, you're one of (if not the) most respected persons in the scene (just check out the latest post on featuring your explanation of TFGD)... you have been a lighthouse for some time, and i'm glad you continuously find motivation to carry on you're awesomeness. You are Christ to a scene that desperately needs more of Him.

thank you again for inspiring -- it's your ability to share your weaknesses that beckons me onward in my own journey.
Anonymous said…
I sent you a modesty email instead of posting to this one.
sweet said…
stephen, this has been a boat load of encouragement that came in perfect time. one thing that i realized while reading this entry is that most light houses stand alone. and sometimes in this society so full of darkness, we have to brave standing alone. but take courage in the fact that despite the waves crashing nearby, that someone out there is looking at our light. that someone out there needs guidance. and that even if were alone, we never truly are, christ-follower or not, we never truly are alone.

and since we are human as well, we have our battles to face and sometimes we just want to dim that light that we feel inadequate to lead or guide others, but thats where His wisdom comes in you know. i know not everyone is a believer and what not, but most of the time everyone underestimates the influence they have on others, and the good that they can do. especially when we are going through our own trials. but one thing that i was taught was that bad things don't happen to us as much as they happen FOR us... that you know, in the end, there is something to learn, that we stand stronger, and wiser.

i want to be a lighthouse as well. despite my flaws, i want to use what i've been given, what i've been through to help others out. that the ignorance of this world doesn't have to rub off on me.

i was just thinking about how donald miller and other people have to raise awareness for causes. why should people have to raise awareness for things such as darfur, such as hungry children, such as missing and exploited kids, and things that SHOULD matter to us... these things shouldn't have to be made aware... i'm not sure if that makes sense... i think to me it does...

but thanks again for posting this. i always enjoy the quotes that accompanies your entries. you must read a lot... have any recommendations besides miller and your book of course, i already finished millers and your book is on its way (birthday present from a friend; i'm too shy to ask for it early, even tho i know its there)
Anonymous said…
I've been thinking about this lately, too.
londontrees said…
As Marianne Williamson said, "And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." We cannot always change the actions of others and we cannot always change the world around us; sometimes the best we can do is simply be our best. As you walked through that crowd at warped, there was at least one kid somewhere in the crowd that noticed you, noticed that you refused to partake in the negative things around you. Seeing your determination to be seperate from those negative happenings may have inspired them to do the same, or reaffirm the beliefs they already had about the situation. In a few days, I will be one of those kids in the crowd at warped...Have hope; you may shine brighter to someone than you know.
Daniel+ said…
Stephen, you are a lighthouse, remember that.

Everyday all of us are surrounded by people who conduct themselves in a way we would not. We can't control others, all we can control is how we go about conducting ourselves, as we allow God to shine His light through us.

Take a look at the parable of the weeds and the wheat (Matt. 13: 24-30, 36-43). There will always be weeds, we can't control that, and sometimes when we try to take matters into our own hands it can bring out weed-like qualities in us (wanting revenge or believing the lie that we're in a position to judge others). At the end of the day, the weeds are the responsibility of our merciful God. For now, we just focus on how God can act in our lives to make us finest wheat that His kingdom may grow.

Wow, this is getting lengthy, apologies for the sermonizing : )

Chris said…
you truly are a lighthouse, otherwise what you wouldn't think twice about any of the scenarios you describe in your blog.

Your words reminded me of the latest song by Brandon Heath that I can't seem to get out of my head. It talks about wanting to have Jesus' eyes to view humanity...wouldn't that make a world of difference. Here's some of the lyrics:

"give me your eyes for just one second
give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing
give me your love for humanity
give my your arms for the brokenhearted-the ones who are far beyond my reach
give me your heart for the ones forgotten
give me your eyes so that I can see"

God Bless
Anonymous said…
wow. couldn't have been at a better time. you are simply amazing. i love your blogs.
Anonymous said…
I have been the sinking ship a few times before. I agree with the last few comments. You are a lighthouse already, Stephen. You don't need us to tell you to put the negative behind you. You already know you need to and it seems you are. Be strong and hope for the world. Those close to you will follow, and in turn will most likely pass it along whether consciously or unconsciously.

I visited a friend in Atlantic City today and my Aunt, who is from Medford, asked her how the living was in South AC. My friend said it didn't matter because people can tell themselves to be happy and she makes due with that. My Aunt was really amazed by that statement and talked about my friend half of the hour-long drive home.

My friend is a lighthouse also. Just remember that there are many lighthouses around the world, and since you have the power to reach out to millions of people (via this blog, Anberlin, Anchor and Braille etc.), you are one of the larger and more powerful landmarks. =]

Eve said…
Oh No!

I was planning on attending warped in the morning to see you. I was planning on going in with "blinders on" due to fear of what I was going to see or hear.

You reminded me that my husband and I had a really great experience when we picked a drunk girl up of the road after a concert at Cornerstone last year. She was messed up beyond belief.
Four hours later we lead her to accept Christ. She had a total turn around. No more binge drinking, no more "cutting". She really did have a true conversion. We continue to keep in contact with her. She is doing great. Totally worth the effort. It could have gone the other way, but wow, what a great thing to have happened! We literally picked her up off the ground.

I forgot to plan on being a lighthouse tomorrow..I really did have plans to turn the light out. My big mistake. THANKS FOR A KICK IN THE BUTT!

On the subject of lighthouses, we have already talked this year about gathering at the very same one. The beautiful lady at the pier at ST. Joe. She stands there above the rocks and dangerous waves. The way, the truth, the light. Alone, but on solid ground. Lighthouses always look forlorn to me. I am sure there is more than a few comparisons to make here to Christ. He did take himself across the lake for renewal and time away from the crowd and the disciples. I am sure you are in need of that right now....

So Stephen, "the sun will come out chin tiger". Sometimes YOU are the sun. Sometimes you need a friend to be the sun. So read these blogs and see that you have been there for so very many of us..thanks!
coryatlarge said…
this is the first time i've read your blog and i am to say the least impressed...... you just brought me to shore so to speak..... thank you.... you've made me a regular on ur blog...
Anonymous said…
stephen you are my lighthouse!!! if you just quit now (i dont know why you would but if you did...) i will still be your fan and love you.
even 20 years+ from now.

see you sept 4th.
~Rachel~ said…
This is a reminder to us all... that we have to be the one that stands out in the crowd, the one whose light shines for God. I find myself dealing with this everyday, I feel that you have to rise above the ashes and face the world like a lighthouse. You are not alone, my prayers and thoughts are with you.
Keeping fighting and we will persevere. :)
~<3 Rachel~
Andrea said…
sometimes I wish everyone could be as happy as i am. negativity doesn't really exist in my brain. (ok... maybe during PMS... but that's about it)
It's really weird, because my sister is the most negative person I've ever met. she can make ANY situation bad. no matter how good it is. sometimes I wonder, why couldn't God just have evened us out? instead of making one super-positive and one super-negative? I don't even know what to do with her. just me being happy bothers her.

The only way I really know how to be a "lighthouse" to negative people is to talk about all the organizations I support and how they can help the less fortunate. I think helping people, especially in poor countries can help negative thinking. because once they see the rest of the world they realize they don't have it THAT bad. (whiny american teenagers drive me nuts!) and it takes their minds of themselves, and as everyone knows, helping others make you feel good.
All these depressed teens, I just want to drag them to africa. we're actually considering starting an organization to do that...
Eve said…
Amen to that Andrea!
Joanna said…
I'm going to focus for one little detail for a minute and that is the rain. Rain is meant to symbolize renewal and cleansing. I thought it was a bit funny that it related to the negative actions that it followed.

Anyways, this reminded me of a certain book you should possibly consider :) Don't know the connection between your post and the message of the story, but for some reason, it stuck.

The Hearts and Lives of Men by Fen Weldon
Ivy said…
I love reading your thoughts.
You are truly inspiring.
As some of the others commenters have said, you are a lighthouse - to us.
The things you write...
make me want to write better,
learn more,
be a better person.

I'm for real too, man.

I don't know why this is hitting me like this either - when I find out I'll let ya know.

But... gee whiz. Don't ever stop being a lighthouse for the wanderers, because in a world like the one we have today, those who have the lights can't afford to let them go out. There's too much to lose.
Rover Fox said…
Lighthouses stand through the nights, and the storms,
But they will shine in glory with the rising of the sun.
We live in a world where the sun hasn't rose,
But we cling to the hope that someday it will.

Just something I wrote,

-Rover Fox
anna xo 47 said…
just so you know,
you've helped me find my way lots of times whether it was through your songs, this blog, or your book.
i never got to say thank you for being my lighthouse.

thank you stephen.
Christopher said…
I am reminded of a Bible verse.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Lindsey Goodwin said…
Thank you Stephen. I really needed that today. It's so hard to see the world as something other than a big black void of unhappiness, misunderstanding, ect. But you have to remember, if we didn't see darkness we couldn't see light.

You aren't alone. Even if you can't see other lighthouses out there. I'm going to pull myself up again and try harder to get my light out there.

"You can't help everyone everywhere, but you can help someone somewhere."
abby said…
I actually stumbled upon your blog completely on accident and am so glad that I found it.

In reference to light and lighthouses, I think of "Let your light so shine before men that they may see YOUR good works and glorify your father who is in heaven."

Its the human condition I believe to feel like our attempts at being a light in society are never enough. I know I often find myself feeling overwhelmed. There's too much darkness, I'm in this alone, maybe God is not working through me, I wish there was more I could say or do... etc etc.

I guess the biggest thing is that we aren't in this alone. You may be one lighthouse, but you are never alone in your journey. No man is an island, to be ultra cliche.

Now we see but a poor reflection... now we know in part, then we will know fully even as we are fully known!

Our labors are not in vain. Places of darkness are simply areas that have not yet been consumed by the light.
Thanks for sharing. I'll definately be back.
malinna said…
you are an island. we are all connected thru words and music - yes, a universal language. a smile can melt a thousand bad vibes and when you smile, it's as if you are a beacon shining thru the fog. seriously.
thanks to my beautiful daughter kelli, i was introduced to your amazing music just 2 weeks ago and i have been more inspired than i have in years. keep on spreading your warmth and good words, it's contagious! and, remember, be patient, but stay hungry - for you never know when something wonderful will be just around the corner. you are an inspiration to all... feel the wind, sun or rain on your face and realize that we all in this together!
ian said…
Man, I really appreciated this. Your posts, however infrequent, seem to speak often to the exact way that I'm struggling.

It's so easy to read Christ's words about being persecuted, but to live on the lonely end of silent persecution, while many around you ram themselves into destructive ends while elbowing you out for your "lack of understanding"- well, it's a lot easier to read about than to live through.

it's encouraging to know that there are guys like you out there feeling the same thing.
malinna said…
while going thru my late father's belongings, i ran across this card. it speaks volumes...
like an island surrounded with an ocean wide,
so god's unconditional love surrounds us on each side.
like blue skies encircling the whole world in space,
so god's unchanging love encircles us with grace.
like rainbows with splendor - touching earth on rainy days,
so the splendor of god's love touches us always.
like parents' matchless love - holding close their only child,
so god's matchless love holds you -embracing you with smiles.
perry tanksley
just thought these words spoke volumes... we are never truly alone.
" the only thing need for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke
Anonymous said…
We are told to be in the world but not of it and part of being in the world is to be exposed to what the world has to offer and put on display. Satan is trying as hard as he can to grab and take ownership of today's youth and he also knows that youth today responds mightly to music so it should not be a surprise to see groups today do and say things from stage that some church people will find offensive. This is our battle field and we are told to enter the battle field armed with the Word of God which the Bible says is sharper then any two edged sword! I want this as my weapon of choice when I go into battle. We should not be afraid of the world or our enemy but be bold and confident that our God rules over all just like a lighthouse that stands tall and will always be what passing and distressed ships look for when in trouble. We need to be bold and not cower in the corner when we hear or see things the world does but take this as a challange to enter into the battle or concert and be that beacon of light!!!
distortion_overdrive said…
Very cool, Stephen. Very cool.
emily said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
promptedbylove said…
Mother Teresa said, "If we do not radiate the light of Christ around us, the sense of darkness that prevails in the world will increase."

Any little step we take towards being a lighthouse is worthwhile :)
Patricia M. said…
I feel a little below sinking ship status to try and sympathize with you on most of this (try bottom-dweller - I've done about as much to help the people around me as the mildew in the corners of my shower), but I know exactly what you're talking about when you refer to the whole Warped Tour scene. I saw the condom balloons flying through the air, I saw the people who'd gotten so drunk that they looked like they were going to crash before they made it out of the parking lot - for Pete's sake, I had to stand next to Shwayze's stage for twenty minutes before The Classic Crime came on next door. I met you with Anberlin at the Minnesota show, and I've got to say, you guys really didn't seem to fit the vibe there. As great of an experience as Warped Tour must be, you just seem a little too good for it.

And just to let you know, you don't have to play superhero to be a proverbial lighthouse. No one can fix everything that's wrong with the world. You're fantastic at what you do – I'm sure that you've helped out more people than you could ever imagine. You're already a lighthouse by my definition :)

P.S.: Sorry if this ends up posting twice. I tried to send it earlier and it didn't show up, so... I'm really not sure how quickly these things register.
Anonymous said…
"I know my plans for you," says the Lord. "Plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope!"

Put THAT into a song!
Melanie said…
This blog makes me feel like a million bucks. Thank you. Be random. It makes people smile.
guard my dreams said…
ive learned recently that unfortunately you cant make loved ones happy sometimes, no matter how hard you try. and it hurts so bad to see them in pain and not know how to help them. especially when they're begging you to do something that will hurt them worse.

sorry this comment is hopelessly vague, but to elaborate would take too long.

on a better note, thank you for this post, it has encouraged me greatly in some tough things im dealing with right now.
Sarah said…
I put the last paragraph you wrote as a quote into the "heroes" section of my myspace profile. Stephen, you are an inspiration with remarkable words that have honestly changed my life. Thank for for this. Your "randomness" has evoked so many positive thoughts in lives, including my own. Whether I read your words here, or through your own lyrics, the inspiration is endless. You're an honest God-send
Willy Walker said…
your my hero
Chris[Miss] said…
Wow. Ok, so I know this was written quite a while ago...but that's what I needed to read right now! I've also often wondered what you'd make of all the "things" going on at Warped Tour. Now we know. I'm now even more fond of Anberlin because of that paragraph. Thankfully when I put on your music I don't have to hear a string of expletives. So, I guess all I'm really trying to say is thanks...for the post as well as the music.
Chris[Miss] said…
Wow. I realize that this was written a while ago...but I really needed to read this. Lately I've been so wrapped up in the negative aspects of life. I can't seem to find anything positive. But this post really encouraged me to search it out. It's there. And I can see a pattern. Whenever I fall into a bout of negative thinking, I become cynical, skeptical, overly sarcastic and hopeless. We can change our current state with one thought! It's amazing to me. Anyway, sometimes my overthinking gets the best of me and I stay in that hole too long. Thanks for an amazing post. That little chunk of Warped Tour was a good example, actually. It's unfortunate that those things go on. At least I can listen to Anberlin without a string of expletives! Sheesh. Maybe some of these bands should take a vocab class. Heck maybe you guys could teach em. haha
kaulie janae said…
how many drown in sight of the shore?

that probably sounds terribly pessimistic, but its an honest question.
Anonymous said…
Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the actual circumstances.
Stephanie C said…
it doesn't necessarily fit, but this song always gives me some hope when I wonder about humanity:

"If you feel like the only one
If you feel like you're on the outside
I know there's one who sees you so you don’t have to be afraid"

The Promise by Means
some good guys.
Rachel said…
so stephen, at that situation at warped tour, what did you do, to become this lighthouse you were talking about?
channel4 said…
I can totally relate to this. I wish that i had the courage and the strength to "be a lighthouse" and tell people what i'm thinking.
JDG279 said…
this is's so good to see the real Stephen behind the image the hollywood/rockstar scene portrays you as. I love your writing and philosophy. Keep on being the lighthouse and inspring us all.
Anonymous said…
Thank you x

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