For 14 months now, I’ve had a sticky on my desktop with only the words of this post’s title showing and without opening the sticky, I was already aware of its content and quietly reminded of my answers each time I saw the unopened sticky. I want to share the contents and add some commentary.
First, a bit about Brad. He was one of my groomsmen at the time of my wedding in November of 2014. We had been friends since late high school early college and had been fairly intentional to keep in touch despite going to different high schools and different colleges. I’m not exactly sure what prompted the intentionality for both of us… for me it was probably the sincerity of our relationship that I appreciated so much. Because we lived in different cities and had very few overlapping friends, it was easy to trust the other and be brutally honest, because there was little at risk with regard to fallout. Also, we both seemed to have a genuine desire to see the other succeed. I would really like it if one day Brad read this and we reconnected as a result.
After I got married, we stayed fairly intentional in our relationship, video chatting once a month to reconnect and exchange ideas/encourage one another. We would often swap personal questions and give plenty of space for answers/clarifying questions until we ran out of time. Since then, we’ve both gone to graduate school and fallen out of the habit, but here was one of the questions that Brad asked and my answer that has stuck with me.
Today Brad asked me what I wanted to be true of me at 50 and I responded:
I want to be married
I want to be a Christian
I want be financially independent
I want to have journals
I want to be fit/in shape
I want to be a linguist
“Today” refers to February 8, 2016. I had just started going back to school part time in addition to working full time at Whirlpool. I was living in a beautiful 4-plex in Cleveland and life really made sense/matched my priorities well at the time.
Also, I was in my early twenties so “50” seemed a pretty far way away.
I still very much want to be married. I hope that death and/or divorce has not brought an end to the marriage that Hayley and I meant for good when we covenanted into. I hope that our marriage is also not just a formality, but rather still a reflection of Christ and the Church: vibrantly loving in sacrificial, faithful, unsexy ways, all-the-while interrupted by passion and sporadic adventures unique to the situation as together we strive to glorify God, spite the devil, and make the gospel of a risen Lord known.
I still want to be a Christian also. Something that was said to me recently with regard to religious truth statements is that we should not define ourselves by our opinions, because if we discover a better opinion, we may resist it on fear of loosing ourselves if it replaces our inferior current opinions. I think that’s a really wise sentiment, but also a bit naive. Of course, whichever beliefs we affirm for an extended period of time will truly alter who we are and become part of us in an acceptable fashion.
For example, I believe I am a man. This is an opinion that I accept that has altered who I am and how I interact with reality. If I come to conclude that I have been wrong ever since I first affirmed my masculinity, either affirming gender neutrality or femininity or an unforeseen option, I think I really will lose part of my past self as I reject my masculinity. Some of my experiences will have to be overcome/invalidated and put off as futile waste of time/life when I in my new enlightenment reject my masculinity.
With regard to Christianity (as with my masculinity), I hope I am right, that I am a Christian. Further, if ever I determine that I am not a Christian or that I was wrong to be a Christian and I must renounce my faith, then I will be giving up part of myself.
But unlike my masculinity, there are parts of the faith beyond my personal experience like the cornerstone of the faith celebrated on Easter: the resurrection of the person of Jesus from the dead. These tenants of the faith should be like the opinions picked up and put down on merit (the question of what merit ei. the source of an opinion’s value will have to be saved for a later time). And if it becomes clear that the key tenants of mere Christianity are no longer the most meritorious, I should cast them aside for their superior alternatives and with them, my identity as a Christian. So, it is a bit arrogant/bold of me to hope I am a Christian at 50, but it’s still true. I hope that my eyes between now and then are open to follow the evidence unto truth and that the evidence continues to point as I currently believe it does to affirming the external verifiable aspects of Christian faith.
I still want to be financially independent. I want to be early retired. I want to spend my days working towards that which I deem most worthy without personal concern for the financial repercussions. While there are those fortunate enough to find work that they love and aligns with the outpouring of their personhood (and I hope to be among their select number while I work towards financial independence), I do not want to place my stock in that always being true. I want to come to a place where I am not concerned for my employer’s capacity to compensate me in a way that meets the desired spending levels of the lifestyle of my family’s preference.
I still want to have journals or records of my thoughts. There’s a degree of fear I have using this web-log as a place for those because it is so accessible. But for the time being, I think this will be a suitable form of journal. Also, I think there will be great benefit in being able to search my past entries digitally/with a computer instead of by hand. And I think that feature combined with the possible benefit of sharing outweighs the downsides of being public.
I still want to be fit/in shape. Like the last two and unlike the first two, I’m not yet. But unlike the last two, I don’t see my efforts and behavior moving clearly in this direction the way they should be. I’m not sure why they aren’t/I am not… but they aren’t/I am not. Maybe its related to doing anything but hermeneutics.
I want to be a linguist less than I did 14 months ago when I told this to Brad, but I still think it would be really cool. So, while I’d rather be a jack-of-all-trades/renaissance man who only speaks English that a linguist with few skills, I’d be totally happy if languages besides English showed up in the skill set. Like fitness, I’m not pursuing this now. Unlike fitness, I’m really ok with that.
What do you think? Am I headed in a good direction? One that’s good for me but not for you? Maybe a bad direction? I’d love to hear from you.