Wow! It’s been over a month! For shame, Brandon. For shame.
A few life updates:
I found a new job that actually requires a degree (not the one I have, but still), I’m working out more consistently, and I’m an overall happier person since last post. I hate that it’s so much easier to post when I’m not as positive and happy. I suppose that’s because I’m happier when more things are going on in my life and thus, I have less time to write. Which is terrible, because even though I’m not using my writing degree… I’m still a writer, dammit.
Anyway, suffice it to say- life’s looking up. I’m feeling more motivated, I’m energized, I’m doing things to make life for others and myself a better place, I’m healthy, and I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.
Unfortunately, that’s not what this blog is going to be about.
I’ve been thinking a lot about myself and my values and what I want out of life. Which is something that makes me cringe a bit; because typically I, tend to think outwardly. Yes, I want to be happy and fulfilled. However, I find fulfillment through helping others find peace and contentment. In other words, I’ve always (well not ALWAYS) thought of life’s purpose as being selfless.
It’s always seemed to me that the path to TRUE happiness is through helping others feel happy. Naturally, that is a hard road to walk because of the fact that not everyone in the world thinks that way. And being taken advantage of is NOT helping people. In fact, in a way, it’s enabling them.
Which brings me to my point.
You see, a few weeks ago I was talking to an old friend. We’ll call this friend “Friend A”, I was told that there was a verbal exchange made between Friend A and another friend, Friend B about me. And apparently, it went something like this.
Anyway… ok, so the conversation was much friendlier. However, it was strange to hear two things. 1.) Apparently I’m a hippie. (2.) Apparently a desire to see people love each other is a weakness.
I understand that I am indeed an idealist. And yes, they tend to seem naive and a bit silly, perhaps. However, I DO have realist tendencies and I understand that just wanting the world to be a better place isn’t going to change things. I know it will take work and that in the end people are going to be people and they’re still going to make selfish choices and do destructive things. However, that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try to build and desire a better world.
This desire to create a better world stems from my foundational values. And yes, their core is Christian. I know not everyone that comes here is a theist. And honestly, even though my faith is wildly different from the fundamentalist roots from which it originally bloomed. I still find value in those values.
I’m not a stereotypical “Christian” by any means. And in fact, the way our culture perceives Christians if that’s what a Christian is… I’m not one at all. In fact, to prove it I’ll drop two bombs that are diametrically opposed to the typical idea of what an everyday Christian is like.
1.) I am absolutely, positively ok with the fact that homosexuality exists. I’ve just met too many people to try to believe that they’re just CHOOSING to be gay and even if they WERE (which remember, I don’t believe) I don’t believe in a G-d that hates.
2.) I don’t believe in Hell. There’s a lot of theology I could go into here, but we’ll leave it at that.
I used to be so confused and irritated. I had two voices screaming in my ears. One screaming, “The world is full of condemnable things and it’s your job to stay away from most of it because it is all disgusting and the people involved in it aren’t much better” and another voice screaming, “The world is a place full of wonder and possibilities and adventure and if you’re a thinking human being, why believe in some magical invisible man that is simultaneously nowhere and everywhere at once, silently judging everyone and keeping them from having fun?”
A book that helped me in that trying time was Blue Like Jazz. I bring this up because I just saw the movie yesterday. Watch it, I promise Kirk Cameron isn’t involved. Anyway, the movie (along with the Shane Claiborne links I posted) reminded me of who I am and the things for which I stand. Also, it reminded me of why I stand for those things and why I press on being seen as a hippie idealist, regardless of the fact that people are going to think I’m naive and regardless of the fact that people are going to say condescending things and regardless of the fact that it’s a hard road to walk.
I was going to have to either pick one voice or the other or just reconcile the two. I chose reconciliation. I had to, because both voices were valid in some way.
Yes, the world IS a scary place full of “bad” and harmful things and yes care should be taken and yes there are some things in this world that are probably best not even experimenting with. However, listening solely to that voice would’ve hidden me from so many different experiences and would’ve forced me to hide myself from so many interesting people and honestly would’ve stunted my growth as a well-rounded intelligent person.
Yes, there is a lot of wonder and amazement in the world. Yes, oftentimes specific views of G-d don’t really make a lot of sense. Yes, there are contradictions and hypocrisy found in religious belief and dogma. But, listening to that voice would’ve led me down a road to irrevocable consequences, jadedness, confusion and would’ve drained me spiritually.
(Disclaimer: This is how it worked for ME, this is not everyone’s experience… of course.)
I think this reconciliation is summed up in a quote from the book version of Blue Like Jazz.
“Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in G-d and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in G-d and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about G-d a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.” – Donald Miller –
As it turns out, everyone is honestly an agnostic. But yes, I lean towards theism. But, it doesn’t matter. The spiritual side of me who believes in G-d and the intellectual skeptic who feels like even if G-d exists the religions of the world surely don’t explain Him very well decided to shake hands and decide all in all… what really matters is how we live.
Because let’s face it, whether there is a G-d or not. I still want to help people. I still want the world to be a better place. I still have values. I still feel like there’s meaning in life, love, joy, peace, etc. and G-d or no G-d, religion or no religion, for these reasons, I live my life. Since/If (depending on which side of me is stronger that day) G-d exists He’s a G-d of Love and “Love is all, it gives all, and it takes all” – Soren Kierkegaard –
In conclusion, I’m just going to keep on being an intellectual, artistic, spiritual young idealist and hope that eventually all of my actively waiting on the world to change will pay off.
I also wanna give a quick shout out to three guys (two of whom I mention in this blog) who helped me through the existential crises times.
I always periodically write a post about my spiritual growth. I guess I was due for one right about now, eh?
– Brandon Holly –