Lesson: Learning to Address the Factors
What’s wrong with me? Every now and again, I find myself wondering, what makes me different from everyone else. It’s not that I compare myself to others as if I want to become someone that I’m not; I just wish to be the best version of me that I can possibly be. I understand that growth takes effort. The Bible says to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7, NASB). One of my most rehearsed passages of scripture instructs us to “make every effort” to supplement specific life-changing qualities to our lives, qualities that “keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-8).
My question is not “how can I be more like this person” or “how can I do what they do”; my question is simply “why do I seem to find myself trapped in the same rigmarole time and time again?” Why do others seem to achieve success through hard labor while, in all my efforts to make an effort, I toil only to receive the same failure?
I’m sitting in a parking structure alone, disgusted—disgusted that my thoughts don’t reflect the godly character I try hard to obtain; disgusted that my actions lately have distanced me from the peace and mental stability I receive when lying prostrate in my prayer room; disgusted that I seem to be developing simultaneously into two different people, one of which is madly in love with God and the other who can’t manage to do anything deemed right in Christian circles.
Sometimes, I wonder if I’m like them. Them being the lowest of the low; the inhumane; the so-called “scum of humanity” whom we deem detrimental to society. Oh, we can convince ourselves that we would never think of a person like this, but it is a lie. Just look at the large-scale tragedies we see on the news. You don’t think of those people as “one of us”.
We categorize sin so subconsciously it’s insane. We dramatize their demonic cruelty and glorify our indecent slipups. The question is: how far are we from committing some of those same atrocities? What would it take to get us there? Oh, we’d never do such a thing! Well then, if that’s truly the case, let’s consider a new question: how close are we to…them?
Call me an irrational extremist, but I’ve considered the harsh possibilities that I am laying on the table. Personally, I think that (on one hand) it is quite pitiful that I am ashamed to say that I am the brother of a rapist. TO CLARIFY QUICKLY, I am not speaking of Corey, Chandler, Tyler, Cheri; I am speaking of something that goes deeper than familial blood.
Yes, I am speaking of the man you all saw on your television news station. The man who is ostracized even among fellow prisoners. His longtime friend who now sits on death row. Sadly, we have been plagued with a common desire for rebellion that traces itself all the way back to the beginning of time when our ancestors—yes, our ancestors—revolted against the forever reigning God of the universe and said, “WE WILL NOT OBEY!”
You and I, somewhere down the road, share ancestors, and yes we share ancestors with them. And from our mutual lineage, sin was born. It was born and passed down as a cherished antique that we ought not to ignore. However, we have separated ourselves categorically from some of those we share ancestry with.
It’s brutally honest, yes, but you and I are brothers with the despised rapist; the serial killer; the terrorist; the pedophile. We may not all be going to the same place at the final curtain call, but we’d be naïve to think that none of these people believe what we believe. You can choose to disagree on the sole basis of common societal thought, but if we acknowledge this reality (after we finish itching, if you’re like me), then we must ask another question: what does their severe condition say about me? We have established that there is some relation.
We have what Jesus has diagnosed as a common, global disease. I do not pale in comparison to their wretchedness. I come from a family of repulsive sinners of whom I am chief. God only knows the thoughts I think, the things I do, and although I can say they are not the things you have seen of my brothers on the news, there is little difference. The extreme is only a replica of our mutual disease—the same disease—constrained by numerous unfortunate social, political, economic, psychological…strongholds unchallenged or unsuccessfully fought, and the overfed disease has revealed itself in the form of our social dogmas.
But to be honest, I am the same way. I take this disease, as cruel as it is, and refuse to fight it at times. Sometimes, even, I feel bound to the same struggle that this disease—accompanied by social, political, economic, and psychological strongholds—has attacked me with. What leads me further down the hole is the fact that people generally don’t care, and they don’t desire to. The fact is, factors are too significant for us to legitimately hold onto the crass beliefs that we adhere to.
For those who don’t know, I grew up poor. That’s all I’ve ever experienced growing up. I don’t know what a real vacation feels like; my first time outside of California was last year on a service trip through my university; every car my family has had has either broken down or been repossessed; I’ve never tasted relief.
Naturally, this has resulted in psychological challenges that has made life less than enjoyable. It wasn’t completely hellish. I have the best family in the world. However, I can’t remember a time when I was completely happy. Many of the things that have given me a glimpse of happiness have consistently been stripped away from me, many times as a result of those aforementioned factors. What I’ve learned recently is that people care much more about policies than they do about people. That makes for monumental swamps of depression in the life of those shackled by external factors.
I can say (as I’ve rambled for too long) that I am trying with all my might to maintain faith in the God that I am still incredibly in love with in spite of this monumental uncertainty that has the potential to ruin my entire life. As you can see, I’ve reached the end of this post and still don’t have a sufficient answer; all I can do is hope and pray that people don’t apathetically ignore the factors that attributed to my numerous failures, and that I can see that glimpse of happiness once again.