My youth and my age are turned on their heads in me.
There’s a young man in me – not the type with a slackened jaw and wide eyes at the world, who listens, and reaches, and aches for every feeling and sight – but the kind you hear in the other aisles at the grocery store, whining for things in a tone many years too childish for his evident age. He is dirty, not because because he has been discovering things, but because he does not like to be clean. He is loud, not singing, but because he does not like to listen. He squints at you, not because he wants to see you any better, but because he has already decided you’re probably the type he doesn’t like. (He’d turn up his nose at you if he were any taller.)
I’m trying to shake him off.
There’s an old man in me, also, and he wants to sit down – not because he is tired, but because he just doesn’t care to exert himself. (Thus, his limbs grow weak from inaction, rather than the alternative.) He is quiet in conversation, not for humility, but for apathy instead; and besides, he’s above conversation with most folks (or thinks so, at least). He does not care if you hear his muttered critiques. They won’t do you any good, anyways. He pauses his grumbling to chuckle when you fall. He has read more books than you have (or at least better ones), he speaks more convincingly than you (or would, if he deigned), and he’s an influential(/persistent) voice in whatever community he graces.
I’m wrestling with him.
I’m sorry if these are the voices I let speak: the whiner and the grumbler. They are the louder voices in my ears, and I’ve a bad habit of parroting their mantras.
I’m praying for the youth and age the Father asks of me: that which stares, listens, feels, and wants to sing at what it sees; that which discerns, and is calm, and wise, and acts righteously for its wisdom.
Please be patient with me when I fail. Part of me is only human.
Why is it that I think so much more than I feel?
I’m not concerned about it. (Or I try not to be.) But I’m curious. (Or I try to be.) On the playground of my conscious life, my Mind is a quick and cackling imp, running circles around a ponderous and distracted older child: the Heart. He’s looking off into nowhere particular and ignoring the probing jabs and shouts of the younger boy. His eyes focus and unfocus with frustrating irregularity (frustrating not to he himself, but to the imp, who begs incessantly for the older boy’s help with random this-or-that’s and all too rarely rarely receives it).
I wonder why the older boy won’t focus like the younger wants him to – and whether or not it would be good for him to do so.
What is a waste of time, and what is esoteric, and why am I afraid of the both of them?
I don’t know if it’s valuable to record these wandering monologues. Do they help us think more clearly, or muddle us further? I think they help me; I hope they help you. Writing is like taking a picture of thought: every idea which once flew or flickered, promenaded or snuck about, is suddenly frozen and on display. Writing is like wrestling: difficult, sometimes sweaty, and dangerous around fire. Writing is like vomiting: one feels as though one must get something out, and feels better for it, afterwards.
I wonder why thinking feels so effortless, and is so difficult to present proof of.
Why do I feel I must anchor myself with legalism, and fly with liberality as fuel?
I rest and find peace in rules. (“I must make myself sleep for a given amount of hours.” “I need to balance play with study.” “I have to-“) But I am joyful and reinvigiorated when I break them. (Have you ever walked out to stare at the stars at two in the morning? Have you skipped school? Do you know that gut feeling that you are doing something right? Do you distrust it?) Would Icarus have flown more safely with a pair of heavy boots? I can’t tell if balance is supposed to be the careful weighing of extremes against each other, or a steady stream of pleasures and inconveniences so mild that they need hardly be weighed at all.
I wonder if I am procrastinating, or preparing.
I want to be that.
This has been on my mind following a handful of recent choices our government and country have made. Crimes have been committed. People have gotten hurt. People are confused about what “getting hurt” actually means, and what “freedom” stands for, and words are cheap for their abundance. Furthermore, and slightly less contextually, the Bible is pretty clear that what comes out of our mouths comes from who we are at root- from our hearts. (Matt. 15:18) That is to say, if you are saying anything, anywhere – that speaks to who you are. We need to know how to do that right. So here’s the thing (or the simplified version of the thing): There are billions of people. There are billions of people talking. There are billions of people talking about things they know and/or believe, which amounts to, ultimately, so much NOISE, and so little communication. Everyone talks, and no one listens.
Through Paul, God says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up into love.” (Eph. 4:15)
I hear three commands in that phrase, “Speaking the truth in love,” which Paul says will allow us to grow into Christ… that we might build one another up in love. (Everyone’s crazy about love right now, right?? Peace, love, and donuts… or something like that.) Cautious extrapolation follows posthaste:
1) Speak the truth. This is a brief and to-the-point reminder that the Church is not called to be silent. In fact, I think the opposite is true. We’re a mouth for the only voice worth listening too. And HEY – it needs to be the Truth as well, you half-caf “not sure how I feel bout some of those Bible parts” Christians. You’re dancing in the mine fields, as the poet Andrew Peterson once said in an entirely different context.
2) Speak the truth in love. Dear blog reader, avoid bologna. Bologna is gross, it smells bad, its spelling is terribly deceptive, and among other things, it smells bad. (Yes, I said that twice. And it’s gross.) Why do I warn you about bologna? Because, to the degree that I can, across this iPad, this internet, and this anonymity- I love you. I’m not going to lie to you about bologna. Neither should you, to the people you love.
3) In love. Gosh, does this matter. To begin conversations or Facebook posts, “To all of you idiots who-” is to fail as a speaker, a representative of the Church, and certainly as an evangelist. Whups – the only audience that matters just left out the back. Throwing the truth in the faces of the unknowing is almost as good as throwing rocks, except with rocks, the scars might heal up in a couple weeks. God’s Word is brutal enough on its own.
(Hey! I’m back. And I did, in fact, start a business, though I did not finish school or learn Latin. Nor am I married, or in college. Those are still processes for now. :-) I wanted to get a little less formal with this site- use it for more of a public journal kind of thing, and less of a billboard kind of thing. If that’s cool with you, I think I’ll get right down to it. And if you don’t mind, please pretend we’re all robots, because that’s really not that much of a stretch.)
Excuse me, sir. Excuse me? Excuse- ex- hello? Excuse me!
*yes, well, hello there young man, etc.*
Good afternoon. I’m was walking dowtown to a port to recharge, and I was in here last week, and so I thought I’d just stop by again for a quick chat. Nothing is terribly wrong, no. No crossed wires or cracked glass or anything. It’s just that, well… your teenager update hasn’t been working for me.
*what do you mean by that, our System is world class, yada yada*
No, no, I don’t think you understand. It isn’t a glitch of any sort- not a problem with your System- it just… isn’t working for me. How do I say this… I’ve realized that I don’t need it.
Now HOLD ON! Hoho, stop right there, because I’ve already heard the pitch a thousand times. No, two thousand. “It’s an invaluable step in the process to Maturity.” And twice that: “Teenhood will reformat your entire interface. You’ll never be the same!”
But (and I’m sorry if this sounds revolutionary, or worse, “uninformed”) what if we skipped the Modern Teenager update entirely?
*that’s absurd, what are you thinking, you are being childish, this is natural for a model of your age, step over here and let us take a look at your hard drive-*
NO! Hold on a moment and hear me out! I’m truly sorry for shouting, and I know that seems “angsty,” or whatever you call it, but sometimes that’s what it takes before you upgrades are willing to listen. Are you listening now? Are you, honestly?
1) The purpose of the update, in whichever way you set it before me, continues to stupefy me. It is a transition… from boy to man? From girl to woman? A transition? Why? We have young, and we have old. We have strong, and we have weak. Why can we not have only a child and an adult? I will tell you why, sir, and I’d appreciate a mind wide open:
We are positively racked with indecision. I’m sorry- you are. I’ve stepped out of that. (Or, “am stepping.” Grace here.) We all come off the line, you know as well as I, unsure. Cold. Wanting. Not always Having. And we all stay that way, to some degree, for all of our time until Warranty. But there is a malfunction that is paralysis for fear of choosing poorly, and thus not having what we need, and that is indecision: A step from uncertain to irresolute; that step being fearful, unstable, and ultimately fatal.
The point, you propose, is that our system cannot handle the terrible (and it is terrible) shift between youth and adulthood and thus requires a third stage, a step between. I counter, however, that that very step negates a necessary leap between the two, resulting in the straining of the former and the debilitation of the latter.
2) Secondly, the definition is faulty, being extraordinarily vague, and when (however infrequently) specific, in my eyes, utterly useless in the process of development. “It is expected that a teenager will…” Will what, exactly? You and your Society are dangerously unclear. We will be boisterous. We will be moody. We will be untrustworthy. We will be loud. We will stomp the streets, and love viciously, and breathe selfish breaths.
We will not. I will not. This I will say with a slight increase of volume that denotes EMPHASIS rather than NOISE: “I will make unintentional and childish mistakes, and I will be a growing child. I will learn from those mistakes, and I will be a better child. And eventually, with much practice, great determination, and the guidance and blessings of my father, I will know enough to make better mistakes, and I will be a man.” Love is sacrifice. Breathing, miraculous. The road, holy.
There is no pool between the shallow and the deep end. Just a rope.
3) The installation, or I guess, implementation, is, frankly, haphazard, heavy-handed, and counterintuitive. The school teaches it lazily, the church preaches it accidentally, and the market shouts it with vigor. (That many more toys to be bought off their shelves.)
*But you are not old enough to understand-*
And there, although you cannot see it, is your growing and consuming blasphemy. That you are. “Foolishness,” I’ll say quietly, and listen as well, for I sometimes stoop so low myself. It is creeping text in the heart-code: “I am old enough to understand, I am enough to understand, I AM ENOUGH.” And you see? Now we point ourselves in the face of our one incontravertible and inbuilt truth and wag our heads, snickering like naughty children.
You have read the text. The Truth, words in white on blue. If we are anything at all, we are insufficient. That is not our flaw. That is our design.