Thursday, April 21, 2011

Secret Ambition

So today, it begins. the Three Days which are one- the Triduum. Reaching from tonight on Holy Thursday, or the time of the Last Supper, to Sunday Morning, when we walk to the tomb to see the master has already risen! It's an emotional time in the Church indeed, from the deep sorrow of Good Friday, to the sheer joy of Easter Sunday.

I think this is one of the best times of the year to think about Jesus and his life. his ministry. No one since him have aimed to accomplish as much in a 33 year lifespan as he did. To be honest, most people who only live to be 33 these days die for something important. Suicide, murder, car accidents or gang violence are hardly as honorable as dying for the sins of the world. But today we have missionaries who lay their lives on the line in foreign countries, channeling that Sacrificial Love Christ preached. THEY are the ones who die for honorable causes and beliefs.

So what did Christ do in those 33 years of his life? How did he perceive them? Did he see them through his Father's Eyes, as a mere stroke of the paintbrush in the picture of the world's story? Or did he see them like we humans do? For me, 33 years of life seems like a pretty long time. It's a little over TWICE my current age! But to those who have lived 40, 49 (happy birthday Mrs. Nalle!), or 70 years, 33 probably seems like only a fraction of a lifetime.

 We  all know how humbly Christ began in this world. Born in a stable in the country side, it was humble even for his culture at that time. But he had something even better than little "It's a boy!" cards announce his birth to the world; he had legions of angels singing his praises, and a star that could be seen for thousands of miles around. After his birth, we black out for a while. During his adolescence, I think he probably lived an average life. He played in the streets with the other boys, went to Temple and Synagogue like any good Jewish boy, and learned the rules of the road in Carpentry.

But we all know Jesus started making ripples on the water of society in his last 3 years of life, teaching, gathering a group of followers, and ultimately resulting in his savage torture and crucifixion.

Michael W. Smith once wrote a song called "Secret Ambition." It talked about the purpose Jesus knew he was to serve on earth, and that no one knew it, let alone what the results would be. In a series of little reflections, singer Matt Maher talked about the meaning of Palms in Christ's time. He explained they were a sign of rebellion, and a sign, more importantly, that you supported rebellion. When the Jews waved their palms in front of Jesus, they weren't saying they believed he was the Messiah or the Savior or any of that.

They were saying they wanted him to overthrow the Romans.

I wonder, if I had been there, in the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and saw Jesus' gentle gaze as he rode down the streets on a borrowed mule, would I have seen a rebel leader in a rabbi's skin, or would I have seen something inexplicable, something holy, emanating from him?

The Passion is beginning. Jesus is sitting down to table. What will you see in him?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To Date, or not to Date, that is the Question

I remember the first time I ever really crossed paths with "dating." I was in the 5th grade. Yeah, 5th grade. Spider Man 3 had just come out, and I was a HUGE Spider Man geek fan at the time. I was talking with some fellow guy classmates, who were all planning on going to see it together. I'll never forget my shock when they asked when my parents could drop me off and who I was going to "ask out." We were a bunch of 12-year-olds in the 5th grade, and they were already going to movies alone, asking girls out. To me, none of it made sense.

Today, I go to movies alone or with a little brother or sister pretty often. I no longer need my parents to go to a movie with me A) because I'm so freakin' tall that no one would DARE threaten me just cause I look like a giant and B) because I'm almost 16. I can sit somewhere for an hour or two on my own and not have an issue I can't solve on my own. My biggest crisis yet has been whether to snag a good seat or wait in line for a box of candy.

But one thing that hasn't changed since 5th grade is my "relationship status" for all you Facebookers out there. I have remained a single guy and intend to stay so for a while longer.

To some, what I'm saying seems nuts. As a friend of mine said in a similar post of hers a year or so back, "Why not date?" Allow me to give a brief rundown of my witness  to the dating world: Part 1) guy gets interested in girl, or vice versa. they talk for approximatley 10-15 minutes and then, if things seem to hit off well, its an instant relationship. Part 2) New couple changes Facebook status/breaks the news and everyone is so happy for them. You'd think they had forever pledged themselves to each other. Some of them do. Part 3) Couple goes on dates: skype chats, movies with friends, hanging out at the local ice cream shop, the mall, etc. It seems like anytime they appear in public, they're together. Cute right?

Hmm, maybe.

But the sad thing is that's where most relationships end. Some girl attracts the boyfriend because she's newer than his girlfriend, or they just decide commitment's run its course and its time to move on. Que rants from friends about how jerky the person who just broke up with their friend is. Enter in new matches for each part of the broken couple...

And hit the repeat cycle button.

We live in a world that is devoid of love and stability. We who haven't been blessed with a loving spouse (yet) or feel like we don't have a constant, unconditional display of love in life, look for it anywhere we think it could be. And while its a sad statement on society, its a real thing. So what do us teens plunge in for? Dating. Forget friendships, where you're focusing on knowing the person more than focusing on the romance. Bring on the full-fledged, life-long committed relationships and bam, your problems are solved.


The problem is, meeting someone and instantly going out with them is like putting diesel fuel in a sports car. You turn on the thing and the engine revs like a monster truck. Then you get 2 1/2  miles down the road and your engine burns out. In the same way, immersing yourself into a serious relationship before you've even "test driven" it so to speak, is going to burn out your connection as quick as used metaphor. And lets face it, like it or not, we teens have raging hormones. Being in a time or place where you're trying to find your true identity while keeping things cool with a person of the opposite gender is a bit too much to put on our plates, when we also have school and lives to live.    

I have a friend who's a girl I met over the blogosphere about a year and a half ago. We started e-mailing, and e-mails turned into instant messaging over google. IM'ing turned into voice chat, voice chat to phone calls on birthdays, special phone calls to texting, texting to skyping. That list also includes Facebook now. And the ironic thing? We're JUST FRIENDS. People laugh at us when we say that because it seems seriously odd. A guy and a girl, who are close in age and have talked for over a year, NOT going out? Long distance relationships are so, like, totally romantic :D We just smile and let it slide. And honestly its been more enjoyable to just talk to someone, regardless of  what culture would demand us to do because we can talk whenever and enjoy a friendship without worrying about trying to honor a serious commitment in such crazy schedules as we have.

So is dating worth it as a teenager? Well, I don't know. There are wholesome Christian couples out there who are trying to keep God in their relationships at all time. But I think its safe to say that friendship has a whole lot more friendship, and a whole lot less raging hormones in store for you. ;)