It’s Fall, Y’all!
It is once again the time of year in Texas where you can leave the house needing a jacket and by midday need shorts and t-shirt. Despite being the fall season, Texas must first endure a few more dog days of Summer before the sweet relief of the seasonal cold fronts blow through. Fall/Winter is my favorite time of year because of the change in the weather with cooler temperatures and eagerly await the arrival of this time. Perhaps this is due to my time in marching band in high school when cooler weather meant contest season, and nicer football conditions, or due to my childhood love of the shift in seasonal decorations. During the holidays, growing up, my family would spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking all sorts of treats and snacks, some of which being Texas Trash, cookies, pumpkin bread, and as of last year, banana nut bread. Having gotten a little older, this time means something a little different. My siblings come home from school, which they do from time to time, but the later seasons allow for more face time together as a family. Despite the fact that I do get to see them quite a bit, I do miss the days of us being home together bickering, arguing, and general roughhousing. Well, maybe not. Family is rather important to me, and when I use to work in retail I was hardly around them. When I was home, they would be at work. When I was at work, they would be at home. Just like my second family (Squadron) and college bible study, I would feel suffocated in spirit if I lacked quality time with them. Inherently, part of growing up means some changes in the quality time spent with one another. A changing of seasons.
A few weeks ago, I cannot remember the exact feelings or emotions I was feeling, but I kind of laid out my feelings exactly regarding where I am in my season of life on Facebook. As I was writing said post, I was simultaneously speaking from my perspective and answering the (il)logical the very things in which I wrote. Being in your twenties is difficult and full of uncertainty and equally full of expectations. The twenties are a tumultuous season of living, which I have, at this point, extensively exhausted. What is difficult for me is that my mind is quite literally engaged in a logical battle with itself. I may thing one thing regarding my life and I immediately have an answer to respond with. While talking with one’s self is not seen as sanity, I am typically engaged in conversation with myself as I process my emotions, thoughts, feelings, and so on. I find it difficult to convey this very process in words to y’all, but I am trying my best. It’s not like the left hemisphere answers the right hemisphere, or that the prefrontal cortex is answering the amygdala, or vice versa. But for the logistics of using the analogy of a battle one may find that having the different players separated across a plane of battle, divided into left and right. Anyway, ultimately I stated to my friends on Facebook that I stand/stood at a crossroads in life where my expectations, desires, wants, needs, and so forth are at odd against those of the perceived social norm. Which if this was any sitcom of the nineties to the present day, would mean that I’ve got some of my life figured out or somewhat established. The expectation is set that once you’ve graduated high school, you go to college. Once you finish college, you have hopefully found someone to settle down with. Have a house, a decent job, and so on and so on. Perhaps that’s just my understanding of it, but I feel as if I do have some precedent to formulate such an perception in analysis of America’s entertainment industry. I’m looking at you Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and Parks and Rec (and others). Looking at these mediums of social standing, one is left to ask, when in the applicable stage of life, why their lives do not match up in essence.
One such example is college life. I started college three years ago, which my that point meant that everybody that I graduated high school with had one year or so left. Based on social norms, I should have been on the same path or pacing. Yet I wasn’t. This gives me cause to feel behind or lesser, though my self worth is not inherently derived from this has caused me moments of pause. Now, as a complete my third year of college being about halfway complete with my degree, my friends are beginning their Masters degrees, getting married, having children, and so forth. Part of the struggle of making sense of this apparent, though illogical perspective that I (sometimes) hold, is understanding that I’m not looking at this appropriately. Namely, I have a flawed perspective that is limited to my own personal difficulties. While I have an understanding that it is acceptable to have the desire to finish school, have an ‘adult’ job, to (eventually) get married, to buy a house, to start a family; I also realize that these desires can encroach upon being idolatry. A fine, fine line must be present and treaded carefully keeping the proper mindset regarding what has a true hold over my life. As I had been writing out this post on Facebook, I was reminded (subconsciously) about an example C.S. Lewis used in the intro of his radio series turned book, Mere Christianity. The quote goes as follows:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
In the process of sanctification and opening one’s self, myself, to allow God to do a work throughout my life requires some restraint. Fundamentally, the issue that lies in hand is that of comparison. In the process of growing up, maturing, and in a season of transitional properties, I must not look or compare myself to the works of others. Including the work of God. As I look out over the production of the lives of others, it is easy to look out and see the magnificent towers, courtyards, and gardens. However, I cannot look up and see my own, at least in whole to the relationship to the rest. Comparison, as I’ve come to see, is a lazy way of making sense of the relationship between things. Ultimately, it is incomprehensible and shallow. It is as if looking at a building’s facade and judging basing the intricacies of the interior upon that. I cannot understand what the interior of somebody else’s life just by looking at the outward presentation. Despite where they may be in the life, where they may have progressed before me, where they may have success, I cannot possibly know where they are. Nor can I compare myself against them, as I am on a very different walk than they may be. We may share similar portions of the same path, but also have very different deviations from one another. Likewise, who am I to tell God what towers to make? Or how high He might make the hedges that boarder His palace? Who am I? How arrogant of me to even have such a sense of pride!
I share this with you, because I have a want to share bits and pieces of my experiences, thoughts, and life as I process my thoughts, emotions, and perspective. A friend of mine shared some wisdom with me regarding the post I shared on Facebook, and they said:
Appreciate your transparency bud. Just know that you are definitely not alone, but always remember that comparison will never lead to satisfaction. Compare yourself even to Jesus and you will find yourself severely outmatched. It’s always good to keep your eyes on the one who is working in you, and not as much on his other works of art. Love your heart!!
This person’s comment fell in line with the logical side of this battle that wages war within my mind. While I hold that we should strive to more and more like Jesus, and that Jesus ought to be the litmus test in which we measure where we stand spiritually, I will never match Christ. I am never going to be satisfied until I am satisfied with the work God is doing in my life. My focus must be set upon the things above, the things of God. No matter what season of life, my focus ought to be set. Unwavering. While I know that I will not always maintain this focus. I will fail. I will sin. I know that I will be content with the season that I am in. I will not try to rush the production. I will not try to build myself up to match the style of others. I will be content, in all things. Which means I must make the choice, everyday. A decision which requires action on my part to choose such an action. So as the seasons of life and nature progress, as I learn and grow more in God and God’s word, I will choose to not compare myself to others. I will not resist God from working on me and His spirit coming to live in me. I will be made smaller, handing off my crowns to God. May my life glorify God.