Thinking about the end of college has taken a lovely root in my life. It feels weird and poetic that I came into college prioritizing health over perfect access to all the wonders and riches of academia, and in the same way I will leave. Staying in the same university town as I was raised ended up being the right choice, but its one of those things that only becomes the right choice as you walk into it. With it being only a few days past the one year anniversary of this blog, remembering seemingly behemoth moments of train wrecks and god awful failures from the past year makes me laugh a little bit. I guess this is what it means to be alive.
My friends have stopped focusing inward, and are now focusing out: trying to make sense of the purpose and the paths of the rest of their lives. We talk in passing, if at all. “All my friends live on Facebook” I casually joke to myself, the thought drifting through my brain like a jingle designed to make light of a potentially anxiety-ridden situation. It’s true. My friends do live on Facebook. And as we are working towards realizing what the rest of our lives will look like, we are faced with the challenge of incorporating these new tools into our health and holistic well-being in a way that augments the present reality and preserves (to some extent) the blessed memories of the past. Never being able to erase a good portion of the Internet will give us all a thick skin and maybe a richer sense of humor, I guess. Guess what? In just five more years, we will once more be in the 20s.
Perhaps the reason young people as a whole are given to new ideas and traditions is simply because we spend all of our prospective lifespans looking forward in anticipation, up until we pass the half-way edge of the hill and begin to chronically look back. To us, our elders are positioned at the very remnant of the only world we have ever held dear, yet they criticize us and tell us to get our butts into gear with a caricature cantankerous fury. I’m sorry that my limitations are fixed to that of someone who has not lived as long as you, and thus will not have the ability to understand. I’m sorry that when I look at you, I am forced to look backwards, instead of acknowledging the distance you must have come.
Someday I want to have kids of my own, but I often wonder what they’ll think of me. I wonder if they’ll see any of these things I’ve written and what sorts of value judgments they’ll make about the person that I’ve become. Will the life that is still in me fizzle out, or will it transform into something appropriate and blessed with age? Will my kids be able to recognize themselves in my words? Will the future be as linear in hindsight as it doesn’t seem now?
God, I just want to be someone that my children and their children can respect. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I don’t want to be jaded and give up on all the beauty that is presently out there. I don’t want to take my life for granted, and get to some catastrophic life event that makes me once more wish that my time were up. I don’t want to let what the world thinks of me define me. I just want to live a happy, blessed, and potentially small life to the best of my ability and love on the people I’m around. Happiness can be big or small, but it doesn’t have to be much bigger than that.
It is strange to have the habit of culling out patterns in what you do and what you see. Even in spaces that seem a godawful mess, the same understanding of inherent organization and systems can help you be open to the work of the Holy Spirit when you allow God to serve his role as “Creator” in your life. I’ve got no idea what will come before me, but God’s sovereignty is the mechanism that allows me to simply spot the patterns instead of martyring myself in trying to control them. We can call it destiny, but that’s a little too self-centered for my taste. If the patterns exist and we participate in them, the key idea is that they are good, not trying to take credit for them that isn’t ours. Being focused in one direction is one of those things that is so only-apparent-to-God that up until critical limits of transformation that are a process, we have better luck in hindsight.
Openness to the new patterns as they intertwine the old is the same spirit of use, the same need to be part of a larger family, the same focus on the systems and the networks, the same coherency between what is and what has been. It is the blessing of making sense of the bull crap long after those clouds have passed. It is the essence of teaching and as the new comes in, the art of revision. Allowing God his most broad and general working potential is allowing him to work in your life and acknowledging that you wish to remain small. On a fundamental level, I see God in being a generalist so much more than a specialist. There is something lofty with using tools in new ways and rediscovering the awe of learning. The scope of all God’s creation is echoed in an infinitely small way by what we are able to accomplish, and yet it still looks big to us. I just get the feeling that anything that gets us looking up and into all that God can make possible is something that will be inevitably good.
You hear a lot about revival going on in the Church right now, and for the most part, I think that is a good thing. At the same time, we have to be careful to not throw the baby out with the bath water when we analyze what is driven by vanity and what is driven by faith, using a baseline understanding of forgiveness. There is no absolute right or wrong here, just the Savior and more room to adapt and grow along with his mission. No one human guides us, but the Holy Spirit that lives inside. If we want to get picky and insult one another and make everything a border war of ideology, we’re going to have a rough run of sticking together. The easiest way for the church to be united is for everyone to have humility, starting with his or herself, and watching these enormous divides simmer away as we once more are woven together. It is my personal opinion that on the day I am absolutely certain I am right, it is my own selfish mind that is in most need of being humbled. If I cannot control others and it is not my role to judge, then I should first submit myself to being made low and then prayerfully intercede for others (and my selfish ambition in doing so). God’s will be done. God’s will should be the overarching focus.
I sometimes wonder if we would have as many controversial issues that so desperately divide the world and the Body of Christ if we provided for the poor widows and orphans like we were commanded to. One of the reasons Christ must come back is because we will most likely inadequately provide for all people up until the day he will put it to an end. Like Christ demanded undivided attention in our lives in Matthew 26:11, “the poor you have with you always”. I don’t know if it’s helpful for me to wonder this, but it’s a thought. I think it’s good to question our faith and the ways we perform it because all leaders and servants and teachers throughout all of time have been simply people, no matter what they made of themselves or the world thought. If we all bear the same image, shouldn’t we all have the same right to explore what it means to bear that image, with the understanding that maybe some of us will be wrong? Is being wrong the enemy? If we are meant to walk out a journey as Christians that will throw some curve balls at us, not to mention our own self-inflicted mistakes, why not try to learn something?
At the end of the day, not knowing what is going to happen is lucky because it gives us the opportunity to embrace the not knowing on faith, and receive some extremely un-anticipated consequences (for the good of us all). If we all expected exactly what we deserved, by faith we would not have received grace. The hope that is naturally rooted inside of human hearts is the simple desire to look up, remain as a child, and experience what it means to make sense of the universe. We can face the future with awe and the expectant promise of Christ’s glory as we walk into the places where he will meet us there.