Mar. 23rd, 2009

greybeta: (Jesus Saves)
So, I was reading one of my friend’s blogs, [ profile] poliphilo the other day, and he talked about returning to church. He didn’t exactly go back for God; rather he went back for the people. He wrote a nice line that resonated with me: “People are God in his/her most challenging manifestation.” This line brought me back to my childhood.

When I was younger, I went to church and learned that there were two types of people. There were Good Guys and there were Bad Guys. The Good Guys believed that Jesus Christ was the only way to heaven and lived their life accordingly. The Bad Guys were everyone else and were doomed to brimstone and fire. It was the Good Guys’ jobs to save the Bad Guys.

At home though, I learned a different version of the battle between good and evil. People were capable of both good and evil, being the Good Guy in some cases and the Bad Guy in others. In fact, what made someone a Good Guy to one person could make them a Bad Guy to another. Both Good Guys and Bad Guys prayed to Jesus, to Buddha, and to Mohammad.

As I grew up, this gross oversimplification became more and more complicated. Was a baby who died in the womb a Good Guy or Bad Guy? What happens to someone who lives their life on an isolated Pacific island and worships the sun? Where does a thief end up if he steals to feed his family? This and other ethical questions muddied the picture.

At one point in my life, I thought I was one of the Good Guys. We’re made in God’s image after all. So I participated in ministry events with enthusiasm. Then one day I began to realize something. I knew the outside, the façade, of someone who believed, but I really didn’t truly believe. It’s like knowing the right answers to say but not believing in them.

At this point, I began to retreat away from my life. I was already fairly anti-social to begin with, but now I even avoided minimal human contact. It wasn’t a very good idea, but I did in anyways. Twice. And, maybe it was some divine power or something, but I heard a click in my head. It was the click of figuring out why the good Lord had given me my abilities.

In the Bible, there’s a verse that says that Jesus Christ will spit the lukewarm out first. He’d rather us be hot or cold towards him, but the middling ground is truly despicable. I can speak the language of a believer but my heart simply does not believe, I said to Him in a prayer. His response was that He just wanted me to be honest.

I have this strange belief in prayer. You can pray, but if you hear something from the other side, you must follow those instructions to the letter. I don’t pray too much for that reason, but I did pray that day and I remember asking a question. “Why would you give genius abilities to a lazy, anti-social person like me?” And so He replied, “What do you think?”

Answering a question with a question? Hmmm, in that case I’m probably not that lazy or anti-social of a person in the end. I am sinning right now because I am wasting the abilities I have been given. I need to trust those closer to me more. Moreover, there are many people I have not yet met that may need the use of my abilities.

So, even though I could work through triple integrals and differential equations, I will answer the call to be a high school history teacher. I do not understand the need to be in Arkansas, but if that’s where I must be that is where I will go. And instead of looking back on my past as wasted potential, I will look to the future as potential being realized.

Oh yes, I’ll even Facebook people I haven’t met in real life if I know I’ll meet them in the future. Instead of being afraid of people, I need to take a chance on them. How can a teacher be successful if he is afraid of his own students? It’s just like war, where the psychological morale of a soldier is just as important as the equipment he carries.

A close of friend of mine couldn’t believe the one-eighty I’ve done in the past month or so. My response was that I’m still the same person inside. My actions may be more responsible and less reckless now, but the core of who I am has remained the same. I might dress it up in an air of cynicism and pessimism, but I strive to use that cynicism and pessimism for positive ends.

Lisa Simpson once said it best: I want a challenge, but a challenge I can do.

July 2009

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