It is a quiet Saturday morning. That is to say, it is quiet inside the house. The lawn guy is out blowing leaves around. But, now he’s stopped. However, I am not holding my breath for someone else to start up a power tool, because this is Saturday morning in Waco, Texas. It is quiet inside the house, because my wife has taken my son to the farmer’s market, where she can socialize with other moms from B. We are planning on socializing with more of her friends from work this evening. I suppose I am okay with this. There is always a generous helping of booze at this lady’s house whose party we are attending. Of course, I will worry some about L being left with a babysitter for about the third time in his life. He does okay at the parents’ day out program, but a person from church who may or may not know all of the little details of taking care of someone L’s age–it’s somewhat different–but, it needs to be done.
I am writing because I feel like I have to. I can’t explain it, but I feel the need to write as much as I would feel the need to do anything biological. I feel that Jesus is calling me to an entirely different sort of life–perhaps one that looks more like my life as a teenager, when I was inclined to still have some regular dialogue with God, and generally believe Christ was available to help me get along.
I am not so much inclined to revisit the past to dwell on it like some scab that I scrape off and hence a wound reopened. I am more inclined to look for mental processes that were happening during certain periods of life–ones that were especially beneficial or detrimental that have now been buried under the strata of all my attempts to live an adult life.
It is kind of amazing how certain moments in the past can suddenly become sticky things–like earwig tunes that keep repeating themselves in your head. Most of the best times were experienced during travel, vacations, camping trips, scout camp, etc. I should say, most of the memorable good times were during such novel activities.
The push is toward a certain state of purity, where I am 100% certain that the person I am presenting to the outside world is completely and authentically me. This might seem like an easy and trivial thing, but I have spent so many years allowing strange pieces of personality to erupt and tear away at my best self, that it is actually easier to find myself communicating with someone while in a state of mind that at best could be described as silly and fanciful, but is probably more accurately to be condemned as dangerous and chaotic.
Jesus and the Spirit–I am searching for a way to become more actively engaged with that still small voice planted in me, and not find myself wildly latching on to whatever idea, book, news story, activity, etc. strikes my fancy. On the inside, I am rarely sitting still and seeking the Kingdom from within.
Some truths that are hard to swallow: Jesus really does love me. Seriously. Jesus Christ has an unfathomable amount of abundant love for me. No matter how much it might seem like the rest of the world has no love left in its collective heart for me, Jesus has more love for me than the entire world could muster in unison. Think about that carefully. Jesus has more love for me than all of the world’s creatures, living/dead/yet to live, could possible muster in unison for me. What this means, is that I don’t need to waste my time seeking approval, validation, adoration and, yes, love, from the world, because I already have Someone who loves me more than the world could ever do.
The next truth: it’s okay for me to love myself. I should never become a narcissist, and egomaniac, an autoerotic, etc. But those kinds of people don’t truly love themselves, anyway. They are in love with fleeting characteristics of themselves–their personas, the way they looked at a certain age, misguided beliefs in their own powers of intelligence or physical strength. They will just as soon begin to completely and utterly hate themselves when those fleeting characteristics go away–except they will protest that they really do love themselves, but they are in love with an image that now only exists in their heads, and they will inevitably start hating others who can’t validate that image for them.
If I truly love myself, then I love the whole person that God made. I love myself as I am–not as I could be with just a little extra surgical tweaking or study of books. I have to learn to develop a love for myself that is gentle and light, that doesn’t cling ferociously to a snapshot of me in the present, that above all else goes easy on myself when I make mistakes, and forgives myself and loves myself the same way that Jesus does.
If I can finally reach a place of being able to do this in a sustained sort of way, then I will suddenly discover success in my ability to love others for who they are–as God made them to be. Somewhere, deep inside each individual, is a created spark of soul that was and maybe is a pure thing, free of any tendency to identify with wickedness. Only a truly and thoroughly evil human being, who has completely given themselves over to darkness and the devil, will know that this spark has been voided out. This is why Jesus left us with the all-important warning not to curse the Spirit–for the Spirit in a general sense is what generates our life and our humanity, and in a special sense is who Jesus left with us as the Comforter as we walk through life trying to become truly his disciples.
There is love that is very much the light yoke or burden Jesus spoke of, and then there is the love that is possessive, avaricious and exceedingly jealous. Of course, the latter kind of love is only love because we humans declare it to be so–in actuality it is hatred. The light and free kind of love really is our path to freedom, and freedom in a certain sense is my ultimate goal.
I want to be free of all tendencies to masturbate, erupt in anger, become silly and foolish, seek out a vain sort of immortality, curse, covet, wallow in that nostalgic melancholy that seeks to do my will vs. God’s, be envious, wrathful, avaricious, full of a desire to prove myself, etc. All of the sins that are mine, and mine alone. These may be to some degree sins that others helped me discover and perpetuate–perhaps I can blame the devil for tricking me now and then into thinking certain darknesses were Light. But, only I, with the constant help of the Lord, can stop sinning. No amount of pinning the responsibility of cessation on others will change the fact that I alone am uniquely the sinner who commits my sins. Trying to go back in time in my mind to find who/what got me started with a particular sin is in all likelihood a complete waste of time. I would be better off devoting that time to seeking ways of being sinless moving forward–replacing the mental and temporal vacuums created by removing the sinful thoughts and proclivities to sinful deeds with meditation and contemplation of God’s great Love for me.
God loves me. I seek the place where this love meets me by looking within. I seek the Kingdom of Heaven by way of the Spirit, whom Jesus as left with me as the Great Comforter. I no longer look to the outside world for the Kingdom of Heaven. I do, however, want very much to love others as I love myself, once I learn to love myself in a right and ordered fashion. I want to connect the spark that is within me with others’ sparks that arise from the one true pure Source. Eventually, I will be able to see God’s love and will at work even in people who no longer think that they believe in Him. They are still loved by God, and He wants very much to see them come home.
The wisdom of the world is not wisdom at all. In the past 100 years, the wisdom of the world generated two great wars, several genocides in places like Armenia, Germany, Russia, Cambodia. The wisdom of the world sees foolish, random entertainment, a clownish sort of way of being, as the best way for humans to spend their free time. The wisdom of the world seeks to escape from certain responsibilities it has as mature, created sentient beings. It wants to see entertainers become world leaders, so that there becomes no difference between the silly entertainment and the (one time) serious business of leadership. What the world thinks being a grownup or adult means–this becomes less and less about one becoming more responsible for the care and service of others, and more and more about becoming full of the vanities of life. The obsessions with “manly” stuff, like facial hair, sports, gambling, cars, fine Scotch, cigars, etc. are actually childhood things that have been retooled to carry the sense of adulthood. There are similar collections of accouterments for women as well.
People of our age do not want to truly grow up, because a part of this process includes a profound understanding of one’s own mortality. As long as we don’t have children, wear clothes like our fathers wore, work in depressingly dull jobs like our fathers did, and care too much about anyone or anything, we can remain Peter Pans until our health and appearances give out completely and leave us starkly facing the fact that we grew old but never grew up. Then, we are forced to face mortality in some deeper fashion, even if we can’t seem to bring ourselves to face it in a truly profound sort of way. This is also why we cease to claim any sort of faith in a higher power–faith in a higher power by default implies that we care about what might happen to our consciousness after we die. If we claim that it just disappears, and that’s it, then we can continue to think of mortality in much the same way that children or animals do.
The majority of innovations and inventions that we have come to adopt in a widespread way are all things that help us perpetuate our little bubbles of pretend immortality. The cameras on phones for selfies allow us to constantly view our changing selves and correct speech and facial muscle patterns that might be construed as those of an aging individual. Of course, we still need a lot of extra chemicals to help keep our hair and skin looking young, but the technology can now give us instant and constant feedback. We can continue to “play grownup” in the ways in which we play with our facial hair, makeup on faces, hairstyles, clothes, etc. The beginnings of these activities came, of course, with painting portraiture, then photography, and then television and film. But with video cameras now ubiquitous and existing like extensions of our own selves, our feedback for our physical images is instantaneous. All of this to say that it makes us a million times more susceptible to the desire to attain immortality in this realm, instead of in a future, heavenly one.