Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Peeling Back the Layers

Yesterday I gave my mind a rest and barely read any scripture. It feels weird to do that, especially after all the momentum I had gathered over the past couple weeks. For a while, I was averaging almost a book of the Old Testament every one to two days. I even recall two Saturdays ago when I dedicated most of the day to reading my Bible. I paused to watch a hockey game and felt guilty for doing so. Surely, I thought, after wasting 27 years ignoring the LORD, it was time to focus. And so I did for the next eight days. Aside from work, I barely passed any miscellaneous time on non-scriptural pursuits, this blog and sleep notwithstanding. But then I realized a few things over the last couple days.

First, it occurred to me that while I have shared the joy of knowing Christ with many people, I haven't really volunteered it. I have spoken to several non-Christians about my faith, how I do have a peace of mind about me, how I do sense God's presence with me. I've spoken to people about how I've eliminated vices from my life, how easy it was to cut a lot of foolish, vain pursuits from my life. Honestly, the fact that I haven't lost interest in updating this blog is something that speaks volumes to me. You might not appreciate it, but I am utterly terrible at maintaining things like this. I just lose interest.

I'm the guy who always bought a shiny new day planner at the beginning of every school year, the guy who never sauntered to class without first digging my nose in that thing. For about a month or so. At the end of the year, I'd find it buried beneath a pile of scrap papers or junk mail somewhere in my apartment. To flip through it, you'd see a lot of blue ink for the first several pages, and then nothing but white. No entries. Nothing.

I treated relationships the same way. It seemed like every year, I found intellectual companions in my classes. I made some profound connections with people. But, just as it is with my work, I never endeavoured to know them outside the class environment. I never had the courage to approach them as me the person, even though me the classmate could relate to the very same people. Even worse, the ones who failed to challenge my intellect were the ones that were the easiest to leave at the curb. I treat everything that way. I've never been able to maintain interest in any job I've ever had--even the creative ones. At some point, it becomes mechanical, just like scripture was starting to feel yesterday.

I caught myself being my old self: locked in a room with four walls and a mind that feels like a jittery firefighter's hose. That's how my mind has always worked. It's non-stop. Without something to channel it, my mind is no different than those exaggerated little jokes in animated sitcoms. It's like I'm attached to a hydrant with no guiding hands to channel me, and I just flail about mentally. When I have a mentor who understands me, these things can be controlled. In the past, substances have served to cut the water and allow me to just coast on any idea I would choose. Of course, now that those forms of sabotage are gone, I'm having to actually heal these issues. And so I realized yesterday that, for the most part, my Christian experience has been very solitary to this point. Just me in a room with a book. Alone. Stuck with my thoughts again. It even occurred to me that I act the same way in God's house, not just mine. I've made friendships there. Even volunteered for a few things. But I have yet to actually approach someone or speak to another member that didn't approach me first. I'm still an observer, just like I was as a child.

I was sick a lot as a child. I didn't even realize at the time how strange I seemed to some people. I missed a lot of classes for a variety of treatments. The big ones were asthma and epilepsy, but I also had eczema, which left pretty severe rashes on my hands and face. It was only after I had outgrown these things that my then best friend dared tell me just how digusting I appeared to the other kids. Funny thing was I hadn't noticed. I always knew I was different; heck, I was a foot taller than most of my earliest classmates at one point. But even back then, I existed in my head. I was scatterbrained and something of a dreamer. Most of my life was vicarious, and that hasn't changed.

I don't mean to knock those who struggle with things like alcohol, but for me to give up anything physical for the sake of becoming a church member, pfft. That stuff's all minor to me. The real battleground is invisible. All in my head. And you know what? I could probably get away with not addressing that for the rest of my life. What I can't do is allow it. And what I don't know is how to change any of this stuff. I've always understood the notion that ignorance is bliss, but since all I've ever had were the things I observed, I've been deathly afraid of ignorance. I'm utterly incapable of deciding something without considering every outcome I've observed in other people. Ironically, I have it on good authority that others have misinterpreted my intensely unflappable hesitation as being a strong foundation. I've been told by people who I really thought understood me that I'm the "grounded one" in their entourage. If I weren't stuck on integrity and perfection, I'd be thrilled to accept that kind of compliment. Sadly, I can't.

I don't know if my desire to be perfect stems from an early and subtle understanding of how imperfect I was. But that's how I approach everything I take seriously. I need to be perfect at it, and I need to make it as perfect as I can. Little wonder I've got such a rabid streak of missed opportunities to my credit. But this is what I need God to heal in me, and whether I accomplish anything at all by typing it here, I felt inclined to share it. Maybe someone will read this and want to serve as some kind of accountability partner for me. What did I do this week to spread the gospel, kind of thing, instead of just leeching it all for myself. The funny thing is, I actually reached a point where I thought I was being the good soldier by sheltering myself from others. If I have it in me to leech the life out of a situation, then let me project it inward and not consume anyone's energies. Makes me wish Satan had something visible like alcohol to leverage over me. That, to my own ignorance, would seem like a much easier hurdle to jump.

I'll end this with a few passages that were written after me own heart. I read these before I fell asleep Sunday night (wee Monday, to be fair). I still think knowledge is power, but I no longer think knowledge is everything. It certainly hasn't rendered my life perfect, at least not the kind of knowledge I've gathered to this point. But, as people will sometimes ask you, if you could meet anyone alive or dead, who would it be. For now, I have a new human hero, King Solomon. He asked God for precisely what I would have. The question of the hour: could I even have handled it?

1 Kings 3: 5-9 "At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

7 "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart..."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Guilherme my blog is:

10/12/07 22:55  

Post a Comment

<< Home