Today’s sermon spoke volumes to me. The teacher talked about being alone with God. His theory takes the example of David when he was but a shepherd, alone with God, developing his gifts, his sense of self. The only man in the Bible who was said to have a heart after God.
It was a good sermon that spoke volumes because it confirmed and encouraged my own thoughts as a Millennial Christian doing his best to live a life that’s good in the eyes of God, despite the enormous amount of pressure we face.
The older generations don’t get it. How could they? To be born and lived a majority of your life before the current age of technology…they think we have it good, but we don’t. They look down on us for complaining because they think we have it better, but do we?
I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my boss (mid-fifties) last year, where he opined that we (Millennials) have it good because in his day, he actually had to approach women and ask them out over the phone or in person. Whereas today, we have online dating with so many options.
I told him, it’s because there’s so many options that we are indeed stunted. Think about it. Once upon a time, people were only limited to the communities and the people they knew existed. If someone asked you out, you had a choice between him or one or two others. Now, you have a choice of between dozens if not hundreds.
What this does, is makes a person reluctant to commit until they’ve “found the one”…which in today’s hook-up culture makes them susceptible to sleeping around and decreases their ability to pair-bond.
It’s because we live in an age where the entire world is connected. No longer are most born and raised in a single community with very little contact with outside cultures. People think that this is all a blessing for us Millennials…but is it?
By the time I was 23, I found something that I could do for the rest of my life. Something I’d be content with. Something that would afford me the opportunity to start and raise a family. The opportunity to worship God to the best of my ability while doing that which I love the most, which is writing.
Recently, I told all of this to an older co-worker, in his 60s. And he squinted with mild disappointment. “But still, Rock! You’re young. When I was your age, I was doing all kinds of things, exploring the world, experiencing what else is out there. I mean, this job…It’s what I’m doing now, because I’ve done everything else. It sounds like you’re content.”
I nodded… “That’s right. I am.”
And I confess, it took some strength to hold back from lashing out at this man. I’ve known him for about 8 years and respect him as my elder. So with restraint, I calmly explained:
“I think that’s the problem with our generation. You hear so much about how the birth rates going down, people aren’t getting married, depression is on the rise. People just aren’t happy. And I think it’s because of attitudes like that.
“Don’t get me wrong, if that’s who you are, go for it. But not everyone has the same desires as you do. I think when we impose upon people these expectations that they should go out and see the world, or experience this or that, it makes them sad. 1) it’s not who they are and now they feel like something’s wrong with them, that they’re lacking in some form or fashion. And 2) you’re putting pressure on them to do something they just can’t do. Sometimes they have other obligations, other responsibilities, or more importantly, it’s just not who they are.”
What happened to the days where a man was groomed to take on an occupation and felt at peace just doing that for the rest of their lives?
“You can, but you’d be missing out.”
That’s fine! Don’t you see? First off, I’m not missing out. It’s an incredibly narrow-minded thing to tell someone because anyone can say the same thing to him.
However, so many think that they’re helping others by telling them, showing them what they’re missing out on, as if they’re life would be incomplete without it. But really, those things are ephemeral. Even when it comes to traveling. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a place and it was exactly as I imagined it was. EXACTLY. Some people lack the imagination, but I don’t. The only thing I gained by such experiences is the opportunity to honestly tell others that I did that thing.
In today’s sermon, the teacher talked about that and gave words of encouragement. At some point, we as human beings need to have the strength to tell others, “hey, that’s just not me.”
“Hey…that’s just not me.”
He gave the example of King Saul telling David to put on his armor and robe in preparation to face Goliath. But David…a mere shepherd and lyre player, told the King of Israel… in 1st Samuel 17:39, “I am unable to go in these things, for I am not used to them.” So David took them off.”
“Hey…that’s just not me.”
The teacher didn’t touch on this in his sermon, but it goes back to when David was in the field, alone with God, taking care of his sheep. During this time, this alone time, David was developed into the man that would one day rule the nation. Being a shepherd means accounting for each one in the floor, steering them away from danger, protecting them from predators. In verse 34, David mentioned that he had to fight off a bear and a lion to protect them.
So when Saul gives David his armor, David didn’t just say, “hey, that’s not me.” Because he was being cool and different…he knew himself. God was with him. This is wisdom. The knowledge of self, what you can and can’t do.
I do believe that most of us learn the knowledge of self through going out in the world and experiencing this or that…but that doesn’t mean all of us have to in order to acquire the knowledge of self.
How many times have we heard, “Sometimes you gotta put yourself out of your comfort zone!”
When’s the last time you heard anyone tell the elderly that?
These are words given to the inexperienced. Young people do need to hear this every once in a while. However, they become insulting when given to the experienced. And sometimes, young people have that experience!
What do you mean, Rock?!
What I mean, is that we as human beings have a tendency to compare everyone to ourselves, and ourselves to everyone. We tend to assume that because we were inexperienced at the age of someone else, that person must also be inexperienced.
However, just this past year, I’ve come across at least 5 close friends, all under the age of 24, who seem to be on par with me when it comes to intelligence and maturity. And I must say, it’s a much-welcomed surprise, instilling some hope for the future generations.
And of course, because I’m not used to such anomalies, I ask questions. I’ve asked these young friends about their background, their lives. Anyone who knows me knows that I go straight for the jugular. I don’t care about superficial crap like the football scores. If I’m talking to you, I want to know what you think, what you believe, what’s your story. Anything less than that, is pointless.
In talking to these young friends, I learned that all of them had a great deal of adversity to overcome. The death of a loved one, years of tormented bullying, an addiction, poverty. These young people were forced to grow up a lot faster than I was. Telling them to put themselves out of their comfort zones would be a gross example of ignorance. I know, because it’s how I felt long before I turned 30.
During my twenties, I worked ceaselessly in the pursuit of becoming a published author. Every weekend, holiday, and vacation was devoted to it. Even when it came to relationships, I’d push people away if they started to hinder my progress. This drive wasn’t solely for vanity. But I honestly believed that being published would land me a paying advance by which I could take care of my student loans and create a financial foundation in order to start a family. That was the ultimate goal. Regardless what society’s trying to tell us about equality and feminism, it is still the duty of a man to protect and provide for his family. My eyes never wavered.
During this time, I was constantly hit with the whole “put yourself out of your comfort zone” clichés. And during this time, I listened. Every time I knew I’d fail, every time I knew a situation would end in disaster but I still went for it all in the sake of “putting myself out of my comfort zone…” I’d feel resentment. Not just as the person who egged me on…but at myself. Why didn’t I listen to myself?
It’s odd, because I’m really one who prides himself at not giving into peer pressure. But it’s easier to resist when you know a thing is bad, like drugs, gangs, and lawlessness. However, when its something meant to help you, to better you, your career, or your prospects…it’s much harder not to listen. Especially, when the advice is coming from someone you respect.
Working for a corporation, there was this constant push to climb the corporate ladder.
You’re working a dead-end job? You’re still in that same position? Don’t you want to move up in the world? You must have no ambition.
Ask yourself, where is this pressure coming from? Reminds me of Social Justice Warriors and every time I see a commercial that starts with the narration of, “They told me that I couldn’t…”
Who told you that you couldn’t? Who? Give me names.
Here, I believe, is where being stubborn can be a virtue. When you’ve put yourself out of your comfort zones enough, when you’ve stumbled so many times, when you’ve been put to the fire again and again, when your faith, your physicality, your mentality, and your emotional fortitude has been tested enough…that’s when you need to be stubborn. That’s when you need to say, “Sorry, that’s just not me.”
There’s a difference between knowing yourself and accepting yourself.
Because from what I’ve seen…there’s too many people out here talking about how they accept themselves…but they’re clearly miserable. Why is that? I ask myself the same thing, actually.
I accept that I am a Christian and I seek first the Kingdom of Heaven…but sometimes, I can be miserable. However, I know the answer to this question. I’ve thought about it. The only time I’m ever miserable is because I’m faced with the wickedness of this world, where I’m alone because Feminism and SJWs have ruined the nature of courtship, where I’ve yet to get published because the Publishing industry is run by leftist who favor leftist messages, where I witness injustice on a daily basis, seeing the immoral succeed, while the innocent suffer…
That’s why I completely understood a couple years back, when I heard of a man who committed suicide and everyone described him as one of the nicest men they ever met. Honestly, it sounded like they were describing Jesus when they talked about this man, saying he was so kind and generous to others. And yet, they couldn’t understand why he committed suicide.
Accepting that you are a Christian who seeks to do what is good in God’s eyes can definitely make you miserable, especially if you don’t have any family or a strong group of friends to depend on. That doesn’t mean we’re miserable all the time. And more importantly, we have the hope of everlasting salvation. Honestly, this world, this life, is but one piece of the timeline. We seek something better, something greater and with the faith and trust in He who created all things, we will be there for it.
I think that’s the main difference when it comes to Christians who accept themselves, and non-believers who claim to accept themselves. I say “claim” because it appears self-evident. If you accept yourself and who you are, why would you be mad if others around you, don’t?
No, that’s a stupid question. My answer to that would be in a sarcastic tone, “Yeah, you’re right, Rock. I’m supposed to like it when people don’t accept me.”
Hahaha! Let me rephrase, or rather…let me illustrate.
Last year, no lie, I was in a team meeting where my co-workers were talking about who should present new guidelines to the department in a workshop. Clearly, I’m one of the more outspoken members on the team, so all eyes fell on me. I replied:
“Nah. I don’t think so. Too many times, I’ve gotten in trouble for saying something that made others feel uncomfortable. I don’t trust it.”
And a female co-worker (whom I have a love-hate relationship with) said, “Well, if people are always complaining about you, maybe you should change who you are.”
Which was strange coming from her of all people. But I surprised myself with my answer because it was quick and came straight from the heart…so much so that I didn’t even have time to think about it. I just flat out said:
“No. I like who I am.”
And that silenced her. Not sure if she was impressed or just taken aback.
But I meant it. I do like who I am. It’s messed up that I had to go through so much bullshit to get where I’m at, but I’m glad I went through it as I’m sure everyone has in their own lives. Everything, the good and bad has contributed to the man you see before you. And more importantly, everything, by the grace of God, compelled me to draw closer to Him. If it weren’t for the false accusations, the hypocrisy, the injustice that I saw in the world that only seemed to get worse, it probably would’ve taken me a lot longer to pick up the Bible and read it cover to cover.
I would’ve been doomed, like a ship at sea, my destination unknown. My course, whichever way the world deems to cast the wind.
Jesus said it best at John 15:18: 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.”
Thus…it’s not surprising that we as Christians are persecuted. But we accept this! Thus, “I like who I am.” It’s another reason why I was able to hold back when that elderly friend tried to guilt me for being so content.
“Rock, you gotta go out and experience the world. You’re still so young!”
I felt the spirit of the Lord wash over me when that friend said those words to me. His words burned in my chest, and the Lord assuaged my ire. Because as I began my response, I had to consider, the same thing David considered when he came to the front lines and saw Goliath challenging the Israelites.
1 Samuel 17:26 has David asking, “For who is this uncircumcised Phi·lisʹtine that he should taunt the battle line of the living God?”
Hahaha! My friend was far from Goliath, but the sentiment is all the same. When you’re faced with such pressure, one must ask themselves…who is this person?
And I did. After I gave my answer of “hey, it’s not just me,” I asked him more about his background, his beliefs, what he desired to do with his life.
I don’t want to slight this friend, because I know his advice came from a good place. But those who don’t know the truth about God’s word…they’re talking from a place of ignorance. It would be the same as my telling a high schooler what he should do if he wants to be an MLB pitcher, when he’s already committing his summers to conditioning and training camp. My words would be coming from a good place, but really…what do I know? I’m not a professional athlete. I have no idea what it’s like to go to a training camp. Ignorance.
But there’s one more major point I want to address when it comes to accepting yourself. And that boils down to the question of, “Should you?”
Should you accept yourself for the way you are?
Because for the past few years, I’ve seen all kinds of social acceptance movements taking place. Are all of them good? Who decides? Well…clearly you do as an individual. But what if what you deem to be good…has negative consequences? Is it the same as a Christian who accepts it as good, but also accepts the negative consequence of persecution and not being accepted by others?
Now here, I might have rattled some cages. Because I’ve read comments about how Christianity isn’t the same because we have churches and a majority of society are all religious. And there, I would disagree.
Just because a person is born into a religion, it doesn’t mean he is religious. Or just because someone says they’re a Muslim or a Christian…it doesn’t mean they believe or even know what it means to be one. From what I’ve seen, it’s merely a title that was passed down to them from their parents or the community. But if you were to ask them, “What do you think Jesus would say about this?” or “How do you think God feels about that?” They wouldn’t have a clue. Or worse, they don’t care how God feels.
If they did, the U.S. wouldn’t be in such a horrible state of moral decline. A country may be economically prosperous, but bankrupt morally. In fact, it’s usually during times of utmost prosperity that the people tend to lose sight on the reliance of God. That’s when they tell themselves, “we don’t need God, we can rely on ourselves.”
And perhaps the most common absurd notion that I’ve heard spoken by many Christians is, “There’s no place for God in ____”
That’s perhaps, the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Who do we think we are? To have the audacity to let it slip into our minds, that God has no place in that which he created. Everything exists because of Him.
“Oh, so God created Democracy?”
God created humans and it’s through His will that humans were blessed with the intelligence and creativity to develop democracy. Yes.
“Oh, so God created buildings?”
God created humans, iron, silicon, electricity, water, the earth and its through His will that humans were blessed with the creativity and intelligence to develop buildings. Yes.
“Oh, then by that logic, God created pedophiles and murderers too!”
He created humans and its by their freewill that they chose to become murderers and pedophiles. Yes.
I can go all day. Everything that is and will ever be was created by God. That which is deemed good and bad in our creates, essentially created by God. To say he has no place in anything…Well, how would you feel?
If you built a castle and out of your love and generosity opened the doors for any and everyone to live in it. And then one day, one of those individuals tells you, “there’s no place for you in this room.”
That is irksome. It’s one of the things that contributes to my own misery when I see it because I love our Heavenly Father. Anyone showing him that level of disrespect, it hurts my heart. But I endure.
I’m sorry. I got way off topic. My point being in all of this, is that you shouldn’t accept yourself if you won’t like the desired outcome. As a Christian, I accept the hardship that comes with striving to do what’s good in God’s eyes in the midst of a wicked world, because the outcome is that I have the hope of everlasting life in a world where there is no sickness or death.
Now think about all the movements taking place. Hahaha! I’m reluctant to ask the obvious question here, because without honesty and the intelligence to envision a realistic result…it’s kind of pointless. The question is, “would you like the outcome.”
I can see a plethora of people saying “Yes,” with this defiant look on their faces. If you’re a feminist with the MeToo Movement, the obvious comeback is, “A day where I can walk down the street without having someone eye-rape me? Yes. I’d like that outcome.”
And I’d understand. The problem is, that wouldn’t be the only outcome. It’s the same with fat-acceptance and sexual liberation. There is an outcome that sounds desirable and pleasing…but long-term, the effects are quite dire.
Not to mention, it wouldn’t just affect you and your ilk, but an entire generation, primarily the children. And I think that’s what makes it all so evil, really. Because deep down, I think a lot of people know the truth, they just don’t care…or worse, they want everyone to suffer. Just like Satan…he knows he’s going down so he’s doing his best to take as many down with him.
Gosh…I’d hate to end this essay on that note, but I think I will.