Note: this blog post is the transcript from this podcast episode, which didn't have a linear structure. So if this blog post sounds like it's just me talking to you, it's because that's how it was written.
In this blog post, I want to explain the different shifts that I've gone through over the last year. These shifts really came to a head in December and January this year, which is the time that I stopped making any more podcast episodes or posting blogs or anything like that.
So what happened? Well, there were a number of different shifts, and I think the easiest way to explain it would be just talking about my beliefs first.
Shift #1: One Hell of a Problem
I grew up in a very conservative evangelical home, and the fear of hell drove me from a very, very young age.
I went through what a lot of Christian kids went through: wrestling with, "Am I genuinely saved or not?" And if you're not in the evangelical culture, it's difficult to communicate how real of a fear this is. Your entire world view is based off the dichotomy of heaven and hell, that there is a good ending and a bad ending, and that by default you are in the bad ending. By default, life is hell from beginning to end for everyone. And just a few escape through the grace of God.
That's the narrative, the world view, the picture that you're put into. And I embraced that worldview with a lot of fervor. Because it was an opportunity for me to impress others and to feel loved by others for being a good Christian. And yet, for me, the primary way that hell negatively impacted me wasn't so much myself fearing it.
Around the time that I was 9 or 10, I became deeply burdened for the sake of other people who were going to go to hell. Which, as I understood it at the time, was almost everybody. There was not a single activity that I felt like I could truly, fully enjoy because everything that I did was just wrapped up into this vicious pain of the "Yeah, I'm doing this, and I'm having fun, but I really should be trying to save people from going to hell."
It was this backdrop of irresponsibility and guilt that got driven deep into my heart, which turned into shame and led to weird outbursts of trying to share the gospel with people and driving them away and being awkward.
I remember times with co-workers where I was very, very insensitive during some of my first jobs. And it was out of the fact that I thought I needed to save them from hell. And obviously, I wouldn't have worded it that way. I wouldn't have said I'm the one saving them. But that's essentially what I was trying to do.
I felt like if anyone has a shred of a conscience at all, who genuinely believes that most of humanity is going to hell, then the only thing you can do is dedicate your whole life to that,. Put every other good thing on pause indefinitely and just try to help people escape hell. So I went to Bible College. I went to Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a very conservative Calvinistic school. And I went there and I studied and I began trying to do some street evangelism there.
I always hated it. It was always awkward. And it's one of those things that I feel a relief in being able to admit now that I always hated it.
Joining Ratio Christi
Afterwards, I joined Ratio Christi, which was an apologetics-evangelism ministry. I had no idea what I was doing. I went to a college campus out here in Sacramento, California, where I currently live. And for about a year, I failed and failed and failed to try to convince people to become Christians on that campus.
And there was a lot of fear in doing it and confusion in knowing how to do it.
I felt bad, because I had raised money to do this, and there were other people who were paying for me to be there. And it was so difficult. I felt guilt almost every single day about wasting time. I had 24 hours in a day, eight hours I was sleeping, I could have, in theory, spent 16 hours a day trying to convince people to become Christians on that campus. I could have been so much more organized and dedicated. And yet, like I said, I hated it. So I often made excuses for why I couldn't go on a certain day.
I absolutely hated it.
Now, that's not entirely fair, because once I got into conversations with people and we were talking about spiritual things, there is something beautiful about that. There's something absolutely beautiful about that, which I enjoy. And I continue to have those conversations with people. But it was the way that I was approaching them with this feeling of "Man, if I don't do something, then they're damned and I'm damned." Maybe I wouldn't literally be damned forever in hell, but I might as well be, because I've let someone else down. I've let someone else go there.
And then I joined another evangelism ministry after not succeeding with that. I joined Engage 360 and I helped put together their evangelism program. And in so far as Christian apologetics evangelism ministries go, I have nothing but good things to say about Engage 360 and their team. Very good people. The way that they have conversations with people is excellent. And so I found a lot of fulfillment in working with them and helping people just how to have conversations.
Yet there was this growing sense of (A) Am I just doing this to placate my own sense of guilt? And then, (B), I had been stumbling upon the world of Christian Universalism, which was something that I had been told all my life was antithetical to the gospel, completely contrary to what it means to be a good Christian, to believe that everyone would be saved. I was told that was the cheap out, the lazy route, the easy route, that people that did that were guilty of this horrendous sin of just tricking people into a sense of safety when there was no safety.
Because in that worldview, there is no safety. In the evangelical worldview that I was brought up in, there is no ultimate safety. Everything is under constant threat. And there are a few places you can hide from the bombs, but that's it. So I enjoyed working with Engage 360.
The first time that I really got to talk to someone in depth about it was with Samuel Watkinson, who I interviewed on my podcast last year. So it's a cool way that works together.
And Samuel, you might read this.; you might not. But thank you for your undying, persistent commitment to spreading what I consider to be the truly good news of the gospel. You are the truest evangelist that I know. And you're doing it all on Facebook from New Zealand, which I think is just awesome. Yeah, I know that some people accuse you of being a bit insulting. Some of the ways you would tack the infernal list view of hell.
But, man, I'm very thankful that you introduced me just to the possibilityof a rational worldview in which everyone is saved. Thank you. Like, it was such a breath of fresh air. I remember talking to my wife when you had commented something just giving a brief explanation somewhere on Facebook about how you kind of see it in scripture, even if it wasn't this explicit thing (because neither you nor I hold to the inerrancy of scripture anymore). But you still explain how the pieces are there, how a faithful reading of all scripture points more that direction than anywhere else.
And I remember just having this glimmer of hope in the back of my mind for the first time that maybe this is a good world. Maybe there is a good God. Maybe there is a reason, an order. Maybe I can breathe. Maybe I can be happy. Maybe I can let go of some of this guilt and shame. So thank you again, Samuel, for that. So that was one part of the shift that was going on in my mind.
Shift #2: LGBTQ Issues
Another part of the shift was with just other ethical issues. I've been a vegan for a long time. So I was used to believing things that most evangelicals resisted.
But the big one that came was homosexuality, just LGBTQ issues in general. And at the time, this was a breaking point. I was working with Cross Examined, and Online Christian Courses, and they wanted me to put together a course on homosexuality. (This was a part-time job where I helped them splice up videos they had already recorded and assemble them into online courses.) But this was sort of a breaking point of realizing that with both and gave 360 and with Online Christian Courses, I was at a crossroads and I needed to make a decision for which way I was going to go. And so I quit both jobs in December and January.
I needed to walk away. I got a new job first -- that was a whole other story! I got one job at a restaurant which then proceeded to fire me after refusing to schedule me. It was a whole thing. Then I got a job at Chili's. Then I got a job at the co-op where my wife has been working for a while and where I continue to work. It's been a great place. So that was all a big shift of beliefs of work. And then also at that time, it was very difficult because I had people telling me basically that -- I had good friends -- I had good friends from college who were texting me and telling me either implicitly or explicitly that they were afraid I was going to hell because of the different shifts that I had taken in my beliefs. So that was fun. And so that is part of the reason for why I have not been active on social media.
Shift #3: Pursuing Coaching
But the other big piece, the more concrete, directly connected reason is because I one of my passions for a while has been coaching. I enjoy the process of being able to sit at a table with someone in person, or on the phone or over a video call, and just talk to someone and help them work through different issues in their mind. Help them figure out what it is that they're stuck on, what that bottleneck is, how to move forward.
I think I have a gift for it. I think that I'm good at it. I think a lot of people are good at it. And I thought it was something that I could excel in. And so I joined a program. I paid a decent amount of money to join a program.
And their whole philosophy was to not worry in the beginning at all about posting on social media, recording content, or anything like that. It was just basically directly reaching out to people and giving them free coaching calls and then converting those into sales calls and converting those into paying clients.
So I did that. I tried that for the last six months with varying degrees of effort and with very little results. It can work. I've seen it work for people. There are a couple of, I guess, mental blocks, mental reservations that have kept me from doing that all out. But that was a big part of the reason why I haven't been posting as well.
As a bit of background: during my time working with Engaged 360, they were a startup ministry at the time, so I got to play in the world of business and startups and entrepreneurship for the first time. I started listening to podcasts, started listening to Gary Vee, started listening to all kinds of different entrepreneurs, some of them way more helpful than others. And I realized this is something that I loved. And so coaching was kind of my first foray into that world of entrepreneurship. And I have so many different ideas I'm excited to try my hand at.
And so you might be wondering, OK, what what is next for you? Like, who are you now? What what is this all about? And the honest truth is, I don't know. I do not know the best way to narrow down my beliefs into a bite sized formula so that you can understand it. I do not know the best way to explain what my business goals and ambitions are. I just do not know. I have a lot, a lot of ideas. And this was something that I learned throughout this process that had been a fault of mine for years.
A Lesson About Identity
The big lesson I learned was one of identity. For my entire life, I have attached my identity to the next big projects or aspiration that I had. So when I was in high school, I remember attaching my identity so closely to Awana and the Awana competitions, the Bible quizzing the Awana games, all of that -- to the point where I was sobbing when we lost at the national tournament. We got second place in Awana games and I felt like I was personally responsible for it. And there is a part of that which is competitiveness, part of it's definitely that. But so much of it was attaching my identity so closely to it. And then after that, it was wanting to go to Bible college. Then when I was in Bible colleges it was wanting to graduate and get into ministry, when I was in ministry it was wanting to finish some projects successfully.
And I always just had in my mind: "I am a person who is pursuing this thing." Like that was it. There were no layers or nuance or depth to my personality, nothing more central or solid. And so something that I've tried to adopt in recent months is to not make it such a big deal. So I made it a big deal at first when I was pursuing coaching. So I said "Yes, I am a coach. This is what I'm doing."
And I would always hyperbolize the language,. If you know me personally, you've heard me do this a million times where I've said something like: "Yeah, I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life! I am so passionate about it." Why did I do that? Part of it was that identity issue. Part of it also was I was willing to sacrifice my identity to sell you on how serious I was.
And I hate to say this also, but part of it was also when I was fundraising so that you would give me money so that you would support my dream, so that you would support my vision when my vision wasn't always as big as I pretended to be. Sometimes I fooled myself. Sometimes I really did think that I wanted to be an evangelism ministry for the rest of my life. I don't know whether I genuinely thought that or not. At the time, I think I thought that I did.
So all that is to say right now, the language that I'm using is: "This is just something that I'm trying. This is just something that I'm doing. I'm not becoming someone new by deciding to try this new thing. I'm just doing it. It's something very light, very easy, very casual."
And I feel like this actually does stop a lot of people from even beginning. They think, well, I'm not a writer, so I don't know if I want to write a book or I'm not a speaker or I'm not a good talker. So I don't want to start a podcast. It doesn't have to become this big thing, this part of your identity that's inserted into your calendar. People think you have to have this big master vision of how it's going to weave its way into your life and into your destiny and into your legacy.
Goodness gracious. Calm down. Breathe. It doesn't have to be such a big deal, any new thing that you set yourself to can just be something that you're trying. It can be a trial run.
It's something that I deeply admire about Richard Bandler. He is someone I've come to study and learn a lot from over the past couple months. And he talks about how he's failed more than anyone. He tries stuff and it doesn't work, but he doesn't need it. He doesn't need it to be successful for him to be who he is. He's like, "Yeah, I'm just trying this and trying that. I'm trying this," and it doesn't matter if it doesn't stick. So that's why I'm happy that several months ago I rebranded this podcast to All In with Jordan Apodaca, because no matter what it is, I do want to give it my all, but I want to do so with a lightness to it, without grasping, without attaching my identity to it. And I like that name because it's not nailing me down to one thing.
A Letter from My Heart
A while ago I wrote in my journal. It was an odd day. I was just kind of depressed and I began writing. And suddenly, out of nowhere, I found myself writing from the perspective of my heart. And so I want to just read to you what I wrote there.
I'm twenty five. I'm so young. I just began living. Don't beat yourself up. Just do what makes you happy. Please. This is your heart. And I can't handle the pressure. Please. For the love of God. Relax. Enjoy life and stop beating me down. I know you wish I was better at certain things, but please see me, see what I'm really actually good at. See my love, my voice, my authentic, poetic soul, bleeding heart. I bleed red. I am passionate. And I've been suppressed. You are ashamed of me. Yet I'm your best half.
I just wrote that, it came out, and it really represents the major breakthrough that I had recently. And it's this idea -- I go on to write: Bring all of you to everything. Bring all of you to everything. Over the past lifetime that I've had so far, I have always divided myself up into various different parts, and hidden parts of myself from people.
The amount of times, looking back over my life now, since I sort of had this realization where I've intentionally hidden part of who I was from different people is shocking. And it's like I was continually trying to brand myself. If you're into the Enneagram at all, I'm a type three. And that was something I learned about myself through the Enneagram. You try to brand yourself to put on an image for other people to see. And part of that image that I wanted other people to see was that I was this person who didn't care what other people thought about me. I was just going to speak his mind. And yet, however, for whatever reason, in different groups, that version of me that just was going to say it how it was, was always saying different things. And so I was definitely not just saying how it was. I was definitely not just being myself. I was always trying to impress, always trying to perform.
And I'm just done with it. I am so, so done with it. I've had these shifts recently. I'm back now. I want to speak to the world. I want to give.
That was another thing that shifted recently was this coaching program that I joined was so, so, so focused on getting money first. Even before providing value. And it's something that I want to change. I want to lead with a giving hand ninety percent of the time I want to give more than I take. That's something I learned from Gary Vee. And I took it to heart at first. But then I've walked away from it. This is something I learned from Jesus early on in my life! It is more blessed to give them to receive. And I want to live that out.
So this was a rambling mess, but it, I think, catches you up pretty well to where I'm at. So see you soon!