Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Endless Life: Feeling Trapped

Note: I've been on hiatus from blogging for a while, but I am working on a few new entries. Thank you to anyone who might still check this blog :)


At age 20, life can drag on and on. Actually life can drag at any age, when a person feels trapped.

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” – 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

When I was seventeen, the decisions of two individuals caused my social life to end within the FOC. Of course I realize that my own decisions, words, and actions over the months and years prior to this time led up to these little shunnings. But although I had said and done some stupid and hurtful things, I hadn’t committed any “unforgivables”. I just wasn’t lucky enough to be born at the right time, or into the right family, or whatever. The fact was I had suddenly become a pariah.

So for three years I lived in a state of essential, though unofficial, shunning. Almost nobody talked to me, except this one guy, J--, who verbally assaulted me every chance he got while everyone mutely watched/listened. For three years I went to the social events and talked to virtually nobody. Toward the end, I talked to a few other similar pariahs, but I never had a chance of social success after those two people decided to destroy me.

Those three years were an eternity. Can you imagine? Three years of attending church services twice weekly, without being greeted or spoken to, or in any way acknowledged. Three years of attending dances and home parties and decorating parties while being invisible. Three years of having no life outside of my family and work.

But other things happened during those three years. I went to work and had a fair amount of success in this aspect of my life. I was trained in every aspect of automotive office management: payroll, accounts payable, receivables, warranties, new and used car titling, and month-end reports. At age twenty, I was promoted to office manager, with a staff of older/more experienced employees reporting to me. Something else happened: guys asked me out all the time. Not FOC guys, of course, but worldly guys. I couldn’t believe that so many attractive, charming, successful men would want to date me after all the social silence I’d endured at the FOC. I didn't want to date the entire world, but it was just one more indication that the "reality" I experience in the FOC didn't check with reality elsewhere.

It came down to the decision to continue living as an invisible and unwanted recluse in my parents’ basement hoping that the years of loneliness would pass quickly and the reward (the possibility of salvation for all that sacrifice) would be real or bolt into unknown territory. Was this seemingly meaningless existence even worth it?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Just Keep Walking: A Lesson on Resisting Temptation

My daughter is a hoarder by nature. Sadly, she has a mother who purges her extra clothing, toys, and other nonessential items when things start getting too cluttered. Despite my best efforts, she has way too much stuff. And this is no thanks to her grandmother who likes to help her sneak stuff in the house. It's a constant battle.

One of this little girl's strongest temptations lies in those little coin-operated junk-made-in-China machines near the exit of stores. She always begs and pleads for some "cents" to put into those dispensers of worthless plastic. 

Tonight, I had to stop at Walmart to pick up a prescription (yes, I take them) and I was feeling awful, but the kids did not get that. They are little people with their own agendas. As I was waiting with my daughter at the pharmacy, she chattered about everything she wanted to look at and I just wanted to go home and crawl into bed. I finally told her that I just wasn't feeling up to walking around the store and she acquiesced to leaving all her unfulfilled shopping desires behind and heading home.

As we neared the front of the store, I saw those colorful, glimmering sentries and I sped up to get through the doors ahead of the kids. And that's when the magic happened. I got through both sets of doors and was standing outside Walmart when I turned and saw both kids standing silently behind me. I was thrilled and shocked.

I looked at my little girl and said, "I am so proud of you for walking out the door without asking for coins! Thank you for doing that."

She said, "I wanted to ask, but I just kept telling myself, 'keep walking. keep walking'."

"I bet you don't want those things now that you can't see them." I said.

It made for a good discussion with both kids. Because temptations will plague us throughout our lives. I have lived long enough to know that what is tempting to some people is not at all tempting to others. I am not tempted to eat pastries, drink soda, or use drugs. But those are very real temptations to millions of others. I am tempted to sin every single day though. Sometimes I keep walking and sometimes I fail. 

But tonight was a good illustration and reminder: just keep walking. The farther away we get from our temptations, the farther we are from them. I'm no expert on addictions, but I'm going to remember this lesson for a long time. Just keep walking. 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Friday, October 16, 2015

The most interesting people are imperfect and unafraid to be real #plasticpeople #keepitreal

I recently described someone by saying, "I really look up to her." The responses? "That's pretty incredible because you don't look up to very many people."

The first thing I have to do right away is confess: my low self-esteem has resulted in the building of great, thick walls of false bravado. People who know me superficially  - the way the VAST majority of people do know the folks around them - may say that I am confident (those who like me) or that I'm a snob (everyone else). But the truth is that I'm neither confident nor snobbish. I often avoid social settings because I believe other people are annoyed by me. I don't trust myself to know and apply the rules of social etiquette.

But, I do have other reasons for disliking other people: they're fake (myself included). It's just too much work to make small talk with perfect, plastic, always-cheerful people. I'm sorry, but they're just not interesting.

The people I respect are unafraid to be real.

I don't like perfect people. I don't need someone to tell me all the platitudes and wisdom that pop into their heads unless it's in the CONTEXT of a hard-earned personal narrative.

I want to surround myself with people who have had real, imperfect lives, and have learned from their mistakes - or are in the process of learning/growing. I want to spend time with folks who are willing to be real about the ugliness of humanity and their less-than-stellar moments/days/years.