Monday, June 10, 2013

Blooming Where I'm Planted

Most of us have felt homesickness at some point.  Even though I've never been much of a traveler, I felt a twinge of it while at church camp in 1998, when I looked at my watch and realized, "If I were home right now, I could be watching Growing Pains."  Later that year, my area was hit by a severe winter storm that forced my family to evacuate to my grandmother's house from Christmas Eve until December 26, which had all of us pretty bummed.
Still, for most of my life, I have felt what I call "reverse homesickness."  There's an old joke I once read about it that goes like this (don't blame me if you don't think it's funny; I didn't make it up):
A husband finds his wife crying at home, so, he asks what is wrong.

"I am homesick!" his wife replied.

"But...this is your home, sweetheart!" the husband responded.

"Yes, and I am sick of it!" said his wife.
 Whether or not that joke made you laugh, it still brings home a serious point: For far too long, I have been sick of being home.  Instead of taking advantage of the time I have at my own residence, I usually end up wasting it or unnecessarily preparing to go elsewhere.  That's why many of my books, DVDs, and VHS tapes have sat and collected dust for a long time; I spent time that could have been used enjoying a movie or a good book essentially pouting because I wasn't doing something outside the house.  I would even waste time traveling places to do what I could just as easily do at home, such as reading my own books; why couldn't I have done that in my own living room?
Unfortunately, it seems that I have similar problems in other areas of my life; it's probably the worst in the relationship area.  This summer, four of my coeval friends are set to be married, all to fiancés whom I have never met.  I can't really say I'm envious of their soon-to-be-spouses; one of those friends is a guy, another has been essentially engaged for as long as I've known her, and the other two are nice young ladies and good friends, but not really the type of girls I would want to marry, so, frankly, I don't feel deprived or jealous.  Still, my Facebook news feed has been abuzz with updates about their upcoming nuptials and others' romances, including details about the love lives of people whom I know nothing about on my Ticker.  Part of me wants to whine and complain: "Well, where's my significant other? Why don't I have a wife?"  Yet, the other part of me realizes that I should be taking advantage of not being tied down to a woman at the moment.
I'm reminded of the Bible story where a woman pours costly perfume on Jesus' head.  When the disciples become indignant--they thought it was a big waste, and that the perfume could have been sold for money, which would have been given to the poor--Christ replied, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." (Matthew 26:11, NIV 2010) It serves as an analogy for our lives: I'm not always going to have everyone whom/everything that I have around me right now.  People pass away, relocate and lose contact, or just grow apart from one another.  Material things wear out, get lost or stolen, or become destroyed.  That means that I have to take advantage of my situation right now: where I'm living, where I'm working, what I can do with what I have, and the people I have around me at the current time.
Most of you reading this probably believe in spiritual, unseen evil, as described in Ephesians 6:12.  I'm of the belief that most, if not all, sinful thoughts and desires come from those influences.  It seems that the demon of discontent is one that has been bothering me all my life; it wasn't possible for me to be happy unless I had whatever it was I wanted at the time...yet, once I got whatever "it" was, I wanted something else.  That's in violation of Philippians 4:13, which describes being content in any situation.  Even Psalm 23:1 (NLT) says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need."  One of the things I need to learn is to be content in whatever situation I might be in, regardless of what whoever or whatever is doing.  (Can I count on you to keep me accountable?)
There are two points I want to finish with.  First off: Being single actually rocks, when you think about it.  A few weeks ago, I was at my local barber shop, and Danielle, the lady who cut my hair that day--yes, even though it's a place for guys to get their hair cut, all of the "stylists" are women--had never given me a haircut in the 4.5 years that I've been going to that place.  Since I enjoy talking to people, I asked her the usual "get to know you" questions, one of which is, "Are you married?" Usually, the women there say they already are committed to a significant other, but she said she wasn't; she was single, but wouldn't have it any other way, because she got to do what she wanted to do.  Well, I say Danielle--who just happens to share her name with my iPod--was right on target!
I've heard married people say that they don't have as many opposite gender friends as they did when they were single.  Though I currently lack a significant other, I have plenty of friends who are female; the ladies seem to gravitate to me for some reason, and I love it.  I often think jokingly that God saw fit to bless me with several women instead of just one; however, when you really think about it, that isn't a joke.  If my Maker decided that I should have several lady friends instead of just one, that must mean He considers me special.
My final point: When facing a challenge like this, it is wrong to expect instant gratification.  Just think: When was the last time you made a New Year's resolution?  Usually, people don't make them because they know they won't keep them.  I've often found that many people just make resolutions that are simply too audacious, such as running two or three miles every single day.  What a New Year's resolution should be is something that you work on gradually until the last page of the calendar turns.  My resolution for 2013 was to spend less time doing completely pointless and non-constructive tasks, like pacing and talking to myself, or looking through old e-mails or Facebook messages for the thousandth time.  Have I completely conquered that battle yet? No...but I'm doing better than I was at the end of 2012, and I've still got 6.5 months left to reach my goal!  Even if I haven't completely rid myself of my non-constructive habits by January 1, 2014, if I've made significant progress, that is something of which to be proud.
When it comes to learning to be content in any situation, that won't happen overnight either; it's something that has to be learned.  The fact that I'm not burning with jealousy of any of my Facebook friends is a step in the right direction; it wasn't all that long ago that I lashed out in anger at the news of a friend's engagement.  This situation I am in right now might actually be a blessing; frankly, I think I currently lack the maturity to be in a relationship.  Asperger Syndrome is a form of developmental delay, which means that I am socially behind for my age.  That likely explains why I was almost the only one among my high school friends who liked the Disney shows; I was socially the target age for Lizzie McGuire and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.  That hasn't gone away; lately, I've found myself devouring a three-disc, thirty-episode set of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which is/was intended for essentially the same age group.  It's funny; many parents have problems with teenagers thinking of themselves as adults.  I remember seeing an argument where an adolescent female said, "I am an adult!", and her mother replied, "No; you are a child!" With me, it's the exact opposite; I sometimes think of myself as still a child, even though I am actually a quarter-century old.  Thinking that way has led to some sticky situations.
Though I have made progress in my life, sometimes I wonder if others don't think of me in the way that Tru felt of her developmentally disabled brother Eddie in the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) Tru Confessions: "I'm going to be off to college, get married, have kids, and Eddie is always going to be Eddie."  I sometimes feel that way about myself, but I know that the "I am what I am; I cannot change; I am hopeless" mentality is nothing more than one of Satan's many lies.  With God's help, I can--and will--continue to progress and mature...but I won't end up ready to be married tomorrow.  Still, with the help of my many friends, who are likely reading this, I will do it over the course of time.
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