So, I’d like to actually qualify my two previous posts at this point. I was attacking straw men arguments in those posts. That conception of heaven that gave me so much trouble is not, as I understand it, supported by Scripture. My struggle is not whether it is Biblical or not, but whether others believe it or others want to believe it.
Too often, I become like the people I surround myself with and to combine that thought with the fact that so many Christians believe in a Precious Moments version of Heaven terrifies me. An escapist attitude, one that has already given up on this life, one that longs for a life to come because, hey, maybe it’ll be not-as-tough as this one, I can’t help but to see that attitude as a cancer.
To understand my struggle, you have to understand where I’m coming from. There was a time, around half a decade ago where I lived my life in avoidance. Avoid difficult tasks, avoid challenges, avoid hard work, avoid confrontation. Easy, life’s main goal is to be easier. But through the most blessed trauma I have experienced, I awoke from that kind of life-comportment. There was one time, a little over a year ago, where I slipped and regressed into living that kind of life again. Back then, I was so close to throwing away the hunger that howls within me, the thirst for challenging the top, but again I was saved by another beatific wounding. So if there’s a fear that I live with, it’s the fear that one day I might be a Doug Heffernan or a Ray Barone. I am deeply terrified of being an average Joe.
“The frog at the bottom of the well knows nothing of the great sea.” Have you ever heard this saying?
It comes from a well-known parable in East Asia. I don’t want to live my life at the bottom of this well not knowing what might have been. I don’t want to come to the end of this life and ask myself the question “What might it have been if only…” If only what? If only I was not so afraid of taking risks, so adverse to hard work, so attached to people’s opinions of me, what might my life have been like? Looking back, my insecurities, my dependence, my fear, they kept me fettered. The bottom of the well was like a second womb for me, dark, moist, confining, but above all, safe.
To choose to leave the well is to forsake safety, caution and comfort. I look at all the people that want to have Heaven without having to work for it, these people are the same ones that rot on couches that reek of Cheetos and flatulence. These are the ones whose minds have been addled by reality television and an endless battery of entertainment. They live lives of sedation. We could not be more different.
But I’m called to love them, to serve them, to be in such dangerous proximity to them. I would have handled it much better if God had called me to love a leper colony instead so long as it was a leper colony without access to American Idol and Lost!
Yoda was right. My anger is born out of a deep-seated fear. If I could change once to become who I am today, then it’s just as possible to change back. Through transforming my flesh I have come to understand that every time you stick to your routine and train, you can consider yourself to have gained a point. Every instance of a weak spirit, or a lack of enthusiasm during a session, each time a session is skipped or put off for a day or a week, you lose a point. The next time, you lose two, then four, then eight. Being disciplined and training only ever gives you one point. Everything that I’ve worked for can easily be destroyed by a few months of slack of discipline. And now, I’ve been asked to risk my prize with each interaction. I look at their physiques, their conversation topics, their small, provincial life at the bottom of the well and I suffocate.
“The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional
men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with
the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that
they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in
their own and other races.” – W.E.B. DuBois
“You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save
the people if you won’t serve the people.” – Cornel West
How can I reconcile these strains of thought?
I will stare straight at my fears. I’ll learn how to love and I’ll find a way to keep from reverting back. It doesn’t matter what the probability is for becoming what I once was, I will beat that probability. To shrink back in fear is to take a far bigger step than to avoid those I’ve been called to serve. If no way yet exists to love the people without becoming absorbed by the people, then I will pioneer a way. If it was easy, then why would it be worth doing. Isn’t this the way that I have chosen for myself?