It’s 2:17 and I’m wide awake. Sometimes you just have to wonder what’s going on.
A conversation from a long time ago came back to me tonight. I’m not too sure why, but it was a conversation in a Sunday School class, or something like that. Our teacher was also a deacon, and was sharing with us stories relating to how we need to be in the world and not of it. I guess he was trying to share examples from his own life. He was telling us about a pizza place down the road from the church that also had a bar. It seems the deacons had themselves a dilemma. They wanted to go there for the pizza, but what about the bar? What if other people saw them walk in to the bar? That guy’s a deacon at the church, and he’s going into a bar!? Of course these random passerbys who witness the deacons enter the bar, yet don’t actually go in to see the deacon abstaining from alcohol (whether or not the deacon actually needs to completely abstain from alcohol is a whole other issue, one I’m not about to address).
Is this what it feels like to die and save the world? Is this what it feels like every time I slip up and leave you hanging your head? Her actions hurt, and I feel a loss of trust. One man hurts another, a relationship broken, yearning for restoration. This is what you feel when I sin, and you must answer for it. I swallow my pride and forgive her painful action. The hurt man forgets his pain and forgives the other. Jesus’ blood covers my sin, and he forgets my blasphemy. Forgiving others, the way you forgive me–now I understand the pain I put you through, day in and day out. What they do hurts, and I wonder how I can trust them again. But you tell us to forgive, as you have forgiven us. Forgive and forget. Move on. So this is what love is? This is what it’s like to save the world? We can never truly know what it’s like to bear the weight you carry–but I’m so glad you do. I’m so glad you do.
Have you ever sat down with someone and talked more with them in that one moment than you ever have in your entire life? Maybe the actual length of time wasn’t longer, but you covered more important issues and got to the heart of the matter. You were actually able to brush aside the day to day of life and talk about real life. Try it sometime. You might feel like you’re stepping off a cliff into no man’s land. You wonder how they’ll respond, and you won’t believe you just told them that. Ask your friend why she loves children so much and wants to spend her life teaching them. Ask your roommate what he wants to do with his life. Ask your parents why they love each other. You might have to suck it up, and it won’t sound like your voice when the words come out, but you’ll be amazed.
“Thanks Dad,” I said just before I hung up the phone. And I truly meant it.
People say as you grow up you get smarter. Sometimes I think you get dumber.
Scraps of memory come rushing back, and you wonder if things were ever the way you thought they were. Some momentous occasions I don’t even remember how they happened. I remember Rob Simpson. It was in seventh grade when I met him. He was your typical dork: glasses, pimples, kind of chunky, asthma, loved computers, messy hair, not exactly a social superman. And you have to know that I’m saying this with the kindest of intentions–I was just as dorky. But what impressed me about Rob was the way he carried himself. The other kids laughed at him gym class. The teacher even poked fun at him. But Rob took it. He cursed under his breath and trotted out in his navy sweat pants and striped t-shirt to run his laps. He’d end up walking most of it anyway, but he went out and did it. He certainly wasn’t the coolest kid either. He was smart, and he knew it. He liked Monty Python, the Simpsons, and I bet he would have loved the Tick. He had that sarcastic, cynical edge, and I remember hanging out in the back of class before school started. A bunch of guys would be hanging out and joking around. We weren’t the coolest kids in school. We weren’t athletes or really smooth guys. None of us really would have made it with the ladies. As I look back I wonder about Rob and how he survived it. I wonder how I survived it. It was a time when you were judged by how you looked, and that was all people saw. The sad thing is that was all I saw, too. Why don’t things change? Why can’t people lose their preconceived notions and prejudices, and just accept people? Why is it that I saw Rob as a dork. I knew him as a friend, but I still knew he was a dork. If I just looked in the mirror I knew the same was true of me. I don’t like people thinking that of me, yet I still thought it of him. Where’s the justice, Rob?
It rises up inside me like boiling water. This is wrong. This is not right. I must do something. Anger courses through me and I can’t believe someone would have the gall to say such a thing. How can you think that? How can you feel that way? How dumb are you? The questions plow through my mind and I can only burn with rage.
Why doesn’t everybody see things the way I do? Doesn’t everybody know that I’m always right? It’s too bad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. After all, I’m just as stupid as I think everyone else is.
Ignore those feelings of right and wrong. Bury it all beneath a blanket of busyness. I know something’s not right here, but I just don’t care. Don’t give me consequences, I know it’s wrong and I just want to move on. But it’s not that simple. Mourn and wail. Pain is involved. You hurt the ones you love, and those are consequences you can’t ignore. It seems so paradoxical, and yet that’s the human condition. What I want to do I do not do, and what I do I do not want to do. And mask it all under a sunny cloud of today. Exchange smiles, laugh out loud, live. But all the while something’s eating at your heart. You sit down with a book in the quiet, and it drives you crazy. The door is shut and someone’s knocking. It’s the judge, and you refuse to let him in. If you face the pain the judge will quickly dismiss it all, forgiving and forgetting in one simple stroke. The consequences will not be wiped away. But you can begin again, and try not to screw things up so bad this time. What’s it going to take to make me understand?
Don’t worry, I’m just as stupid as I think you are.
Sorry about that multiple day break. I was too stuffed with Turkey to drag my bloated body to the computer and actually compose something worthy of your time. But don’t worry, I’m back. And I’ll stop skipping days.