This past weekend, our church hosted the 1st West Coast Leadership Summit for Full Gospel Assemblies. Some of our favorite East Coast people, our spiritual godparents, were in attendance. It was a really refreshing time for us. The weekend’s discussions were centered around spiritual mentorship, imparting visions and the formation of core beliefs.
We all have world-views that were formed as responses to situations: our childhood, past relationships, single life-changing events etc. This is human. There’s a lot of this stimuli that we had no control over. This nature is what protected us from a very young age. It’s how I learned that that touching a stovetop can burn for days or that drinking sour milk by accident is disgusting. Bleh! (This has led to me to compulsively double-check expiration dates before I eat anything from the fridge or pantry). It’s also how I learned that I don’t get to keep every friend I make and that not all lost friends are lost forever. I have learned that most of the time our hard work will pay off but other times things just aren’t going to work out no matter how hard we try to make it work. I learned to be okay with that. It’s the school of life, as some call it. The more you’ve lived, the more you know, the more ingrained these harsh realities are in making you who you are and telling you what you believe.
But can the school of life be wrong? Why does it teach it one person to be soft-spoken, gentle and loving while making another person harsh, stubborn and cynical? Why does one person who has lived 40 or 50 years one way can turn 180 degrees towards the other way? Does life just happen to teach people different things? Or do different people learn differently from the same life situation?
I am very young in this school, you see. Still in freshman orientation. It’s hard to convince people that I believe what I believe. The response I most often get is always along the lines of, “When you get to our age…”, “Wait until you…”, or “You haven’t lived yet”. I get that I’ll never get it until I get it. I’m teaching myself to be careful in assuming that I know better than I do (warning: I am very opinionated). I do love listening to those who are decades ahead of me, hearing all their stories and reasoning about what drives their thoughts and actions. It’s like getting advance notes. Just this past weekend, I’m glad to say that I gained a lot of insider information from some of the wisest, most-experienced people I know and I’m beaming with satisfaction in the end – like the kid that I am, as if I won the biggest prize at the fair.
That’s not always the case though. In other encounters, I walk away feeling emptier than I did when I walked in, like the conversation has drained me of all my will to live. Is reality that hard and hopeless and pointless? Obviously, these people should not be motivational speakers of any sort and should be kept away from impressionable children like me. I am of the humble but strong opinion (see above warning about opinions) that they should keep their life lessons to themselves lest they make someone jump off a bridge.
All this leads me to ask: are the harsh lessons that we consider “reality” even true? Does reality create truth or does truth manifest in reality? Is it possible for truth and reality to not match at all?
Maybe our realities are so tied up in things that are present, superficial and temporal that we have a harder time swallowing truths that are timeless, deep and eternal. There are those who say that truth is relative. I believe Truth is Absolute. Otherwise, there will be many truths, many ways and many standards. For others, there is no truth at all, no way and no standards. I am a Christian. There is only one Way, Truth and Life – Jesus. As His follower, my only Truth comes from the Him and His Word. When I say I have everything I need but I don’t have the money I need to pay my bills, do I still have everything I need? Yes. When I say I know God is always with me, but I don’t feel it – I feel so terribly and literally alone, is God still with me? Yes. When I say I am a new creation, yet I still fall back into old ways, am I still a new being? Yes. Thank God.
Another young person once asked me how I find confidence to talk about what I believe. It’s because there’s a difference between my opinion and what I believe to be true. Sometimes there is Truth, coming from the Word of God, that I struggle against because my opinion – my present, temporal reality – says otherwise. When I stand up in front of a crowd and say I believe what I believe, I better make sure it’s backed up with Truth even if I don’t have enough life experience yet to back it up with reality. I can still get laughed off the stage, but the Truth remains. I testify to eternal Truth, not temporal reality. Truth is the same yesterday, today and forever. Truth is truth whether you’re just starting out in life (like me) or you’re already an “expert” and you’ve seen all the realities it has to offer.
Image credits: miguelanggelo.