Monday, September 24, 2012

Already....and Not Yet

Look at this craaaaaazy diagram. Does this diagram help you to understand salvation? Me neither. Isn't fundamentalism so terrifying/fascinating at the same time?

One other thing I did this summer was to read a lot of books. Some were good and some were terrible. (And speaking of, I need to come up with some sort of book rating system for my booklist side bar. As it stands, it is just a list of what I happen to be reading and is not intended as an endorsement of any kind. But after some feedback from blog readers who read books listed there and hated them--MFT, I still feel profoundly sorry that you read Midwives while pregnant with your child which probably traumatized you forever. Not sure how to remedy that, but sorry--I realize I need to make that more clear. Until such time as I figure out a system and get motivated to implement, please refer to amazon.com or some reliable source for legitimate reviews of anything you see here.) ANYWAY, one of the books I read this summer was particularly terrible, but nonetheless caused me to have an existential crisis. Its basic premise is that you can fix your life in 10 easy steps (and by easy, I mean: Let go of your baggage! Stop being angry! Make new priorities! Celebrate yourself! As if those were actually easy tasks, which I can tell you after some serious therapeutic experience, they are NOT.)

But one part of the book did jump out at me and no it wasn't the suggestion that I "have a party with friends that treat [me] like a diamond and put thirteen candles on the cake that represent the divine [me]."* That part just made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. What struck me was this:

"I find many people expected their lives to be extraordinary, yet they wind up feeling really ordinary. In our dreams, we are the best. We will not just be a doctor, we will cure cancer. We will not just be an entrepreneur, we will found the next Microsoft. We will not just have children, we will have children who are angels. Except in real life, getting into medical school is near impossible. Bill Gates would not even hire us. And the devil is no match for our children."

My thought process while reading this paragraph went something like this: 
Wait, OTHER PEOPLE feel this way?
No!
Noooo!!!
But maybe.....
DAMN IT.

I have previously admitted that I had, early in my life, harbored a premonition that I would be "one of the greats" and that I have experienced great disappointment at that prediction's failure to come to fruition. In fact, quite often when I read of folks my age or younger doing outrageously great things--such as the 24 year old Michael Wear who was hired to direct the Obama campaign's outreach to religious groups--I think, "that could have been me!"**

But now that I have reached adulthood--when does middle age begin, by the way?--how am I to know what to do with those expectations? Which ones should I hold onto and which should I release as the wildly irrational expectations of youth? That is the conundrum that I am currently trying to solve in my life, though not in any direct or productive fashion.***

The Already and Not Yet is a witty little quip coined to satisfy Christian churchgoers who dare to ask how it is that Jesus came to fix everything, conquer sin and beat death, but who notice that we still have some broken shit, are pretty sinful and still die. To that question, many a charismatic clergyperson has said, "We're living in the already...and in the not yet." and hoped that little rhetorical flourish would throw the inquisitors off the trail of the fact that really we have no idea why everything is still screwed even after Jesus.

All that to say, I really think I'm in an "already and not yet" phase at present, figuring out where to go from here. Any ideas from the vast readership here are more than welcome.


FYI: The book was We Plan, God Laughs by Sherre Hirsch, so you can avoid it if you ever come across it.


*When I read this to Mr. L, his response was, "I can't tell what is funnier: that suggestion being so stupid or you reading it in such a stupid voice to make it sound more stupid and prove your point."
**Okay, but let's be honest...what I actually think is "That could have been me!" and "I probably would have done a WAY better job than that guy." OR "He probably just has a rich family!" I'm such a jerk.
*** Which I'm sure makes you very jealous of Mr. L who he gets to hear all about it all the time but not offer solutions.

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