Your life is a wreckage of abandoned projects. Some of them were novels and some of them were relationships. Many of them were intended to become careers. You are scared to death of God, because if you are merely one of His projects, He will probably abandon you the way you’ve left so many virtuous and ambitious activities behind.
Remember in 2006, how you took a tour of the homeless shelter, researched economics classes at the local community college, and began thinking about how you would get into an elite foreign policy grad school? This was going to be the year you turned it all around. Thanks to making it halfway through Bill Clinton’s autobiography, you were handed a whole new mission in life: to become one of the game changers in Washington. Maybe you’d messed around for too many years to become President, but surely you could get a high-level post in the State Department after riding the coattails of some equally ambitious candidate.
Remember how you abandoned the nice lady and her ESL non-profit so that you could join the political campaign? Then, you found yourself “working at home” while you made calls to potential volunteers and donors all day long. You were somebody important for all of three months, and you made sure that the world knew it. Every night, you descended into a torpor, continuing to make phone calls while you got drunker and drunker.
The cherished myth you’ve carried with you to this day is that you were “this close” to becoming somebody of note, and every single team you’ve had to work with since then has seen you lapse into great silences of indifference to whatever oh-so-important fires need to be put out. You’ve sulked in the childish silence of deep resentment toward bosses who are dumber than you, and have had less experience doing truly great things.
In your cloistered world of working at home, making phone calls, and traveling infrequently, you developed this notion that you were just as socially well-adjusted and mature as anyone else your age. Whatever gains you’d made in growing up socially and emotionally came while being in a constant state of recovering from being drunk or getting drunk. And when you turned all of that off after she walked out of your life for the last time, you discovered that you were probably about as mature on the inside as a fifteen year-old boy.
And unfortunately for you, you also quickly learned that your body did not in any way resemble a youth’s–your head, now fully relieved of years of dyeing out the premature gray, was a horror of middle age. Your chest was now half-covered in white hair, and your sex drive only flared up every few days.
So, where exactly did you “leave off”? Was it that summer six years ago when you started off down one path, but ended up running up and down so many others? Or, perhaps it was that summer twelve years ago, when you had the foundations of a solid career and family life laid in place, owning a home, living with a pretty lady who would say “yes” the minute you asked her, and starting a job that held some degree of importance at the state capitol. Maybe you left off eighteen years ago, when you decided to let your mullet grow, date a redneck girl and work at McDonald’s. Or, twenty-four years ago, when you chose to forego playing all the sports the other boys were playing and stay home every night they had a school dance? Perhaps you left off thirty years ago, when you were asked to join the White Wolf gang on the recess playground, play soccer with other boys, and you knew the girl you liked liked you too but you were afraid to talk to her? Maybe you “left off” thirty-six years ago, when you chose to return to this earth to live again and work out all of your issues?
Or, is it more of a case that you keep leaving off every single day–leaving off from anything and everything that smacks of growing as a human being, as a spirit being, as the kind of project that God would want to keep going and not abandon?
You think that there must have been a lot that was right about your soul when you came back into this world–it wasn’t all wrong and full of “issues.” As a child, you took joy in saving money, not spending it. You loved math and computers, and more importantly, you loved the Lord. Your attempts to “become cool” were always not very well met. You got sick when you tried to smoke, when you drank a beer, when you stayed out too late with friends who were up to no good. Every part of your physical self rebelled against the punishment you threw at it in your quest to become cool like your older brothers. Until one day, all of the bad, terrible habits more or less took.
You never completely gave up the notion that God exists–you experienced more than the simple, flesh-loving souls around you. You never completely abandoned your family–the more time you stayed at home with them, the more you returned to loving them and cooperating with them, and preferring to spend time with them over errant friends. You always saw programs of clean living, self-improvement, Bible-reading, and clear-thinking, as programs to incorporate into your life–and launched every new year with new projects that sought to cram as many of these kinds of activities as possible into your daily schedule, while minimizing all of the bad stuff.
Inevitably, your conditioned flesh would rebel against such things, and you would use any sort of mildly unpleasant event as an excuse to return to booze and cigarettes and living like you couldn’t care any less about tomorrow or the afterlife.
You wish that you could report that it was through your own incredible self-determination, self-discipline and heroic will that you finally conquered cigarettes for good, and haven’t gotten drunk in two years. You’d like to say that one of your programs or projects at the start of a new year helped you end one set or another of your endless self-defeating thought patterns. But, it wasn’t you that made you better.
You modeled yourself after rebels and losers for almost twenty years, and when it stopped being cool to be like them, so did much of your bullshit self destructive behavior cease to exist. You quit things because you took a few days to fully understand that these activities delivered zero positive benefits to you. Nobody does anything because they are convinced it can only harm them. They do harmful things because they are deluded into thinking that these bad things will ultimately benefit them in some way–that one day, an elite group of ultra-hip, ultra-cool individuals will spring into their lives and admire all of the wretchedness as a sign of possessing depth and authenticity.