Too young and too dumb: part 2

No one ever taught me how to be a son. It’s what I’ve always been expected to be just by being born into this world, but no one taught me how to fulfill this social role. Further, how was I supposed to know that this role would change over the course of one day, my 21st birthday, which I wasn’t even home to experience?

I live with my dad for about 5 months of the year, while the rest I spend living on my university campus, soaking up the independence I’ve gained over the last three years. That kind of independence is what I share with my peers, but I’ve always been more of an independent person than most. How is it that someone like me, so young and so dumb, has been able to grow up so fast?

I find it all too common for young people my age to have conflict with the same sex parent. Daughters resent their mothers and sons resent their fathers. As an adult son, I’ve been trying to work through my feelings toward my father that have developed over my childhood so that our relationship as two adults can be rooted in love and understanding. It’s extremely difficult, though, dealing with my emotions when I have an emotionally absent father. Or is it the other way around? Does he have too many mood swings? Have I lost the ability to feel? Have I never formed an attachment?

I watched the film Life As A House once today already, and I’m currently watching it now. Honestly, I could have cried several times throughout the film—if I could actually cry ever. I have these romantic notions of a perfect father/son relationship, and I know it will never happen for me. I don’t have a father like George, someone who wants to pursue me, and I’m too resolved to the fact that my father will never know me intimately. We can’t communicate on the same level—I guess I’m always trying to be better than him. Dad cries and wallows in depression because he sees himself as a failure. As much as I tell him he isn’t or doesn’t have to be, I also believe it’s true. So, I have to be “better.” I think some walls between us are just permanent, that we could never tear them down and rebuild a beautiful relationship. We’re simply individuals, he in danger of losing everything and I just starting life.

Too young and too dumb: part 1

I’ve been around for a little over twenty years,
And to anyone who needs advice on getting here
Don’t ask me, the path I took was not exactly by the book.

I was too young to know and too dumb to figure out
That you can lose yourself in all this traveling around,
And you can reach a point of no return
Losing touch with lessons learned…

And the only way to love yourself:
Giving love to someone else.
Don’t believe in everything you hear.
Growing up is more than simply living through the years…

So it took a little time to get this right.
The guilty and the innocent are always side by side.

I’ll be me, and you be you.

--Jon McLaughlin, The Middle

During the summer months when it can be hardest for college students to live fulfilled lives, I’ve found that I have been sustained by the blessings of friendship. Though it seems I have abandoned or set aside some relationships for the time being, there are also the select few that I have been able to consistently nurture, which I find benefits all involved. One of the greatest difficulties of growing up in our socially networked world is having the ability to know about everyone, but at the same time being clueless about who people really are. I ask those who want to get to know me to make the effort, while I also try to make the effort to truly know some of the people that I’m surrounded with. I admit that I may not want to know you as much as you want to know me, and maybe there are those that I want to get to know who don’t care to know me. What are we to do with that?

I’m reminded of something a friend once told me. Some friendships are only for a time, while others are life long. When you start one, you never know which it’s going to be.



I’ll give you this confession
I am taking you with me

I get the feeling we're so misdirected

I get the feeling we have lost control
Til then I'll turn you to the new religion
We're dropping out into the so unknown
- Drop Out-The So Unknown, Jack’s Mannequin

Although there are so many loved ones that I would like to take along on this journey, I find that I have abandoned more than I have taken with. If I ever think that my personal journey is more important than that of another, I am dreadfully mistaken. We’re all just trying to take our own journeys into the unknown, facing reality as we know it, and somehow wanting others to journey with us.

There are some of you that I have started taking with me. You don’t even know it yet. You and I are headed to the unknown destination just because we love each other and share dreams and direction. Have we dropped out of reality? Maybe. Maybe not. Keeping our lives centered in the present, we can know what’s real and what’s not and share ideals and values that we think can change the world. If we’re misdirected, how do we know it?

I have no power over your religion. It’s yours to find, but how I wish that you would listen to me and let me turn you to mine. It’s about love. It’s about concern for the poor. It’s about grace and redemption. It’s about creation. When you can understand where I’m coming from, the ups and downs of the journey so far, perhaps you will turn to this religion—the religion of the unkown.



Each day I seek to find ways to make this body better. I somehow hold the key that gives life to my doomed flesh. As I eat, drink, and run, I do so with purpose and determination. All I want to do is live. I don’t take my breaths for granted any more. I feel them. There is life flowing through my lungs, my veins, my muscles, and I am growing stronger.

In this critical time, I have learned that sacrifice and dedication are worth the price for the achievement of the goal ahead. I love this discipline, but it scares me. I’ve spent so much of my life being flexible and undisciplined that I fear this is only for a moment, that I will fail at this and be unsatisfied with who I become. I want any physical changes to compliment the progress I make in learning to live. I want my body, mind, and spirit to be fully connected, dependent on each other, not living separate lives.

Has running become my new religion? If so, what progress is that? It’s just one more change, one new lifestyle to adapt to, not the person anyone would expect me to be, a person I doubted I ever would be, but somehow I’m here.



I wonder still if it’s freedom or fearlessness that I truly desire. For I know this: freedom bound within the confines of a system is worthy of respect. Fearlessness often looked at as freedom outside of a system, can bring much glory or much criticism. And there are times when I think I want both. There are times when I see social norms as safe and life-giving, and times when there is much oppression and misunderstanding. Community standards and expectations do serve a purpose, but have they limited my friends from exploring the world and experiencing grace and truth?

When speaking the truth meant handing over a friend to discipline, I had to try to make sense of what consequences I would be bringing upon myself and others. I had to decide that speaking the truth meant my friend would learn a lesson and possibly modify his behaviors and attitudes. I had to ask myself if my truth was really the truth worth possibly losing a friend over. I had to ask if this is what accountability should look like. I was convicted in that moment, knowing that stepping into that office made me vulnerable to attacks and criticisms on every side. Telling the truth in that moment was either a way to wake up my friend or a door to my own fall and hypocrisy.

Though he kicked and screamed for a moment, he found the new pain was bearable. Getting caught breaking their community standards wasn’t the worst that had happened to him. He said he learned his lesson, but I cannot say for sure that he has, that he won’t break those standards again. In fact, I know he will. I also know that he answers to a higher Authority, and I cannot decide how to discern if that Authority has given authority to the institution. Further, I now want the clarity he has that somehow the institution is wrong. The reason I know he will break their standards is because I have, and we are forever linked. As I watch the powers of the world conflict with the powers above, I cannot help but become more confused in knowing exactly when heavenly Authority has been bestowed upon the kingdoms of this earth. I wonder if when I choose to submit to anyone, in some ways I am denying Our Father and not fully submitting to the Son.

So I can’t decide, and may never be able to decide, if I’m Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Reformed, Lutheran, Episcopal, Catholic, Protestant, or whatever way you want me to label my religion. If I commit to one, I deny some of the great mystery and attribute of our God, the one and only Father, Son, and Spirit. Perhaps it is only in the mystery of the Trinity that I can find both fearlessness and freedom.


I must clean this up and move forward.

The ants have invaded, and I must decide how to react. I can remember back to the last time my life was invaded by ants. Everyone around me reacted differently. Some could care less. Others found it horribly disgusting. Some pointed blame. Others quietly and humbly cleaned up the mess. I was in the company of many then. I am almost alone now.

I don’t know whether to be angry at myself or at him. I know that I am not responsible for him and that the mess left behind was primarily my own. But, somehow, I can’t take full responsibility for the ants. I can, however, note that the ants are only a symptom of something else, deeper issues in life at home. I suppose rather than pass blame or get angry about this situation; I should just clean up the mess. I must clean this up and move forward. I can only hope that by keeping this space clean the ants will not return.

I need a helper, and I have become so bad at asking for help. I need someone to see the mess and come alongside me with a plan to help clean it up. Once it’s clean, I feel then I can let others in. Until then, I think I will push others away, or wait to go to them and not let them come to me. Not everyone can be so intimately involved. It’s not normal for me to show hospitality, but the day is coming when that will change.


Take the vows.

The religion that I thought I was lacking is not lost. It has been here all along. I have always had a religion, a devotion to Our Father, a faith. When I said that I am almost ready to say goodbye, I mean only to say goodbye to a past lacking in understanding and depth. As I pursue a deeper calling, I wonder if it is almost time to take the vows.

Poverty. Chastity. Obedience.

These historic vows have been taken by the greatest leaders of our Faith for centuries. Although they may not be necessary, I find them so vital for living a deeper life. These life-giving vows are promises to God to put aside the extra gifts of this world to pursue the Faith with more vigor.

Before I can take these vows, I need to find my place in the Church. I need to find a place to call home, where others can hold me to the calling that I know is there and where I can use my gifts and calling in faithful service to Our Father and to my brothers and sisters in the world.