Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Choices

There is a time in every one's life (several in mine, apparently) when they have to sit back for a second and examine the choices that they have made, especially the ones that have had the most impact on getting them where they currently are in life. The time of not worrying at all about "the issues" is over for now. Maybe next year it'll come back. For now, God has given me several subtle reminders that the thinking, learning, and doing for me is not over. By the way, subtle to God is probably the equivalent of hitting a person over the head with a brick.

There is something to be said for holding to your choices with a will that is unwavering, stubborn, and perhaps even a little abrasive. No doubt this stubbornness concerning choices is what can get conservative Christians labeled "fanatical" at times. Whether they want to admit it or not, strong faith is a choice. We make (or should make) conscious choices to follow God's Word, devote our lives to Him, and give up the world for Him.

However, while it is fine for a person (and especially a Christian) to hold on to their choices firmly, it is not right for them to hold on to their choices without thinking. It is important to stand back every once in a while and think, "Why am I doing this?" If you're a politician, "staying the course no matter what" may get you elected, but if you're an actual human being, it just makes you look like a pompous, self-righteous jerk. It is perfectly fine to stand back, look at your life, examine what's working and what isn't, reassess what you believe, and then start out new again from there.

Needless to say, some situations in my life recently caused me to enter such a period of reflection. I won't go into the details of either the situations or the reflections (after all, it looks like I'll be writing enough extra-long essays this semester), though I will say that on the surface my views haven't changed much. I am still pursuing celibacy, I still believe that same-sex relationships are not what God intended for us, and I'm still Reformed. However, by analyzing what these choices mean and how they've affected me, I have gained a lot of insight into who I am and what my relationship with God is like. More importantly, I've started to be more aware of how my choices affect others.

Even if I don't agree with a person's choices, I always admire people who recognize that life is simply a conglomeration of choices and that choices are an extremely important aspect of who we are. It's amazing how many people (on every side of the aisle imaginable) are afraid of the word "choice." My first choice, I think, was to not be ashamed of my choices. Lots (and I mean lots!) of choices followed that. The most important choices in recent years have been the three listed above (which some people might call beliefs--but I think beliefs are choices as well). But I've also made other important choices, some of them deliberate and some of them unknowingly.

I've chosen to accept everyone as a friend, no matter how different they are from me ideologically. I've also chosen to not be afraid of the so-called "gay label," and to be very open to having close friendships with gay men and women who have made different choices concerning their sexuality than I have. Sure, these choices have made things harder for me in some respects, especially in regards to my other choices which run counter to them. Temptation and tension are very natural consequences. But they have also set me on the course to become a bold, kind, honest, and authentic person (though I wouldn't say that I am these things just yet). I'm not going to cower away from relationships because I might get hurt, or because there might be disagreements, or because it might cause some people in the church to look at me funny.

Actually, that last bit reminds me of a scene from The Velveteen Rabbit, one of my favorite books. It's a bit of dialogue between the Rabbit and the Skin Horse:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

I suppose, in the context of this book, my main decision--my main choice--is to be real. I don't know if I am yet or not, but I'm not afraid of the shabbiness, the ugliness, or the people who don't understand. Their choices are theirs, and mine--no matter how difficult sometimes--are mine.

8 comments:

Brian said...

I stumbled upon your blog awhile ago, now I'm not even sure how, and added it to my feed reader. Random blogs normally get lost in the sea of CNN and Yahoo news reports but I managed to see this one. Thanks for sharing.

grace said...

Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorite books of all time that I hadn't thought of in a long while. I can't wait to read that to my 4th graders this year....I can't imagine I'll be able to get through it without getting at least a little teary.

love ya muches!
pam

Brady said...

Wow Jay, great post! I'm with you on the choices people make. We're made to be thoughtful beings, and not analyzing what we have done, are doing, and will do is contrary to our nature.

I also love the Velveteen Rabbit quote. Very nice way to end.

Pomoprophet said...

I agree with the others. Thats a powerful section of Velveteen Rabbit! Sometimes I think as adults we get more out of the books than we did as kids.

Brandon said...

Great post, Jay. I think it's good for a person to be real and to follow their beliefs. It's being honest with yourself, and with others.

I'll agree with the others. I really like that passage from the Velveteen Rabbit. Reminds me of the movie A.I. wherein the main character is trying to become a real human boy.

God bless ya.

Brandon

Eric said...

"I am still pursuing celibacy, I still believe that same-sex relationships are not what God intended for us,"

I know it's tough and look forward to reading about your trials and tribulations concerning this.

Glenn Houtchens said...

Wonderful article, Jay. One of your best, I believe.
Peace of Christ to you~

Jay said...

Wow, thanks for the compliments everybody! I'll try to have some more stuff up soon. Just gotta balance classes and all the other hundred things I wanna get done. :)