Archives For growing up

'D23 Expo 2011 - Marvel panel - Shifting the Paradigm' photo (c) 2011, pop culture geek - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Life is full of vicissitudes, vagaries, and chance. While I believe God is sovereign, I also believe that, as C.S. Lewis said, “Free will requires a kind of divine self-abdication.” This does not mean that God is not privy to what will happen, but rather that he purchased our freedom at such a high cost to himself that he often doesn’t step in to stop free acts of others from hurting what we would deem the innocent.

Bullets, and bats, are not transmogrified into harmless rubber. Child molesters are not afflicted with impotency. The world seems to be going straight to hell without so much as a by-your-leave.

Some would point to this, and say there is no God. And on the surface, it sure appears that way. The Bible has something to say about this; namely, that this world is under the evil one’s sway. That we don’t yet see everything under Christ’s feet.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to accept that, I want it to be enough, but I have questions aplenty.

Why did I lose a sibling to abortion?

Why were my dad, and his sisters, subjected to such an unhealthy, abusive upbringing?

Why do I have no relationship with him?
Why do I struggle making lasting friendships?

Why is being a husband, and dad, so hard for me?

Why, God, did you let xxxxx happen, and why didn’t I find out until I was an adult?

Why do you keep shifting my paradigms, and peeling back the layers of my life like some onion? 'layers' photo (c) 2011, rosmary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

He never answers these questions, except to give selfsame answer he gave to Job:

“Where were you when I made the world, since you are so old?”

What can I say to that? Such is his severe mercy that I must cling to, and grope for, it everyday.

None other has the words of life.

How about you? What are your questions? What do you struggle with in this vale of tears?

Folks, a simple phrase, “I’m alright,” has shaped much of my life in more ways than I care to admit, or will readily acknowledge. The simple truth is: I’m not alright, else why did Jesus have to die for me?

Yet it was this very phrase that my parents taught me to say when, as a small child I would fall, get scraped, be upset. I know they meant well, but it was cold comfort to a little boy.

Until the little boy grew, and internalized it, made it a life philosophy. I suppose it’s why, now, I’m so accepting of the brokenness I see all around me, and why I have such a hard time fessing up when I’ve done wrong.

Because, you see, “I’m alright.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The genesis of this philosophy predates me, of course, and goes all the way back to the garden. But as pertains to my particular ancestry, I would say it has its origins with my mom.

Mom was raised in church, knew the Bible, won awards for Scripture memorization. But she tells me that upon hearing a particular sermon about how wretched we are (while true, it’s my conviction that she came of age in a very legastic church–thus the truth was communicated sans love), she said to herself “I’m not that bad.” Thus began the slippery slope leading to “I’m alright.”

Thing is, though Kenny Loggins sang of it (“I’m alright, don’t nobody worry ’bout me. Why you got to give me a fight? Why can’t you just let me be?’), it’s a poor way to live. We–you, me, everybody–don’t exist in a vacuum, and our choices effect other folks. The fact is: we don’t grow through the easy times–when things are “alright.” We grow through rubbing up against one another, when it’s hard, when we’re forced to work things out.

“I’m alright” not only denies the pains life brings our way, it also shortcuts the conflict by which we confront those pains, one another, and the process of working things out. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of another” is what the Scriptures say.

“I’m alright” denies the need for any such sharpening. It basically says “I’m okay–you should be, too.” Then seeks to go on about its merry way, not caring for the devastation it leaves in its wake.

For myself, God has been faithful to not leave me so blithely ignorant to the hurts I’ve caused. It’s not been easy, and I often kick against the goads–struggling to admit my wrongs–but it has been worth it.

So I say here–now, today–I’m not alright.

And that’s okay.

How about you? Are you alright?

20111209-115330.jpg

That is my thumb. My left thumb. The photo has not been altered, nor the digit, either. It is as it has been since my birth (even before, I’m sure). It was not severed in some freak combine accident–I was born with the line, the ring around it.

My parents were regaled with various and sundry theories as to the why of it (no one really knows–though there is speculation that it may be linked to gestational renal development), but the TL;DR always ended with “He’ll grow out of it.”

Which apparently I did not. Indeed, if I had a nickel for every time I was asked the “rubber band question…” Well, you know.

All I know is that it’s another in a long series of ways that I’m just a little different from most folks. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean special: I mean different. Just different. I’ve never felt special one day in my forty-two years of life. Like a square peg perpetually in a round hole.

Bookish and shy growing up, I was called “gay” in junior high, and actually had to fight to get my tormentors to leave me be. Indeed, my parents’ divorce during my adolescence didn’t do much for my already floundering self-confidence.

I was adrift in a sea of forgottenness. Oh, yes, I acted out for attention–which by and large, I didn’t get. The one thing that was always out of reach, and indeed still is, was my dad’s love. I was never good enough–just a little different, I guess–for him.

Which apparently I’m still am. I’m the bad one for, despite years of trying, putting up with his spew, and then excising his toxicity from my (and my family’s) life.

At this point, I wish I had a “hoo-ra” tale to tell–that after coming to the Lord, that my extended family found Him as well. But I don’t. In many ways, I still feel like that square peg–or the black sheep (or the sheep in wolves’ clothing). Somehow, I still manage to screw this family thing up…

I wish I had grown out if this, but like my thumb these feelings of inadequacy linger. And the idea of a distant, uninvolved God is strangely comforting. Because it’s all I’ve ever known of love. It’s my normal.

But I want more…

How will ever impart anything else to my kids? That they’re special–loved by their parents, and beloved of God? It’s so hard! And doesn’t come naturally.

I want to believe that ring around my thumb–like my being born with only one kidney–is more than just a fluke of genetics. I want to believe that it means I have been, for reasons known only to Him, marked by God. Set apart for His purposes.

Like the man in Scripture, I pray ‘Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

20111209-115330.jpg

That is my thumb. My left thumb. The photo has not been altered, nor the digit, either. It is as it has been since my birth (even before, I’m sure). It was not severed in some freak combine accident–I was born with the line, the ring around it.

My parents were regaled with various and sundry theories as to the why of it (no one really knows–though there is speculation that it may be linked to gestational renal development), but the TL;DR always ended with “He’ll grow out of it.”

Which apparently I did not. Indeed, if I had a nickel for every time I was asked the “rubber band question…” Well, you know.

All I know is that it’s another in a long series of ways that I’m just a little different from most folks. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean special: I mean different. Just different. I’ve never felt special one day in my forty-two years of life. Like a square peg perpetually in a round hole.

Bookish and shy growing up, I was called “gay” in junior high, and actually had to fight to get my tormentors to leave me be. Indeed, my parents’ divorce during my adolescence didn’t do much for my already floundering self-confidence.

I was adrift in a sea of forgottenness. Oh, yes, I acted out for attention–which by and large, I didn’t get. The one thing that was always out of reach, and indeed still is, was my dad’s love. I was never good enough–just a little different, I guess–for him.

Which apparently I’m still am. I’m the bad one for, despite years of trying, putting up with his spew, and then excising his toxicity from my (and my family’s) life.

At this point, I wish I had a “hoo-ra” tale to tell–that after coming to the Lord, that my extended family found Him as well. But I don’t. In many ways, I still feel like that square peg–or the black sheep (or the sheep in wolves’ clothing). Somehow, I still manage to screw this family thing up…

I wish I had grown out if this, but like my thumb these feelings of inadequacy linger. And the idea of a distant, uninvolved God is strangely comforting. Because it’s all I’ve ever known of love. It’s my normal.

But I want more…

How will ever impart anything else to my kids? That they’re special–loved by their parents, and beloved of God? It’s so hard! And doesn’t come naturally.

I want to believe that ring around my thumb–like my being born with only one kidney–is more than just a fluke of genetics. I want to believe that it means I have been, for reasons known only to Him, marked by God. Set apart for His purposes.

Like the man in Scripture, I pray ‘Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

This past weekend, my wife & I played hooky from our church to hear Ravi Zacharias speak on life’s questions. After hearing him, two things are clear:

He’s brilliant; and,

It’s no wonder he’s known as one of the preeminent apologists of our day. You should check him out.

—————-

With Saturday being my “cheat day,” I purposefully pigged out on donuts in the morning, and skipped lunch–because I knew we were meeting for dinner prior to the Ravi Zacharias event. Which meant, with the doors opening at six, we had reservations for four-thirty. Yes, it felt a bit like taking a walk on the senior side (eating so early)–only without the blue hair.

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