Friday, July 17, 2015

Two Different Issues...One Big Reason Why

There is something that I've been debating about doing for a while.  Many of my friends have done it, and some have had success, whereas others have suffered tragedy as a result of it.  In the past, I've taken steps towards it...but, there always seemed to be hindrances of some sort, such as those who could help me do it not being able to for any number of reasons.  At one point, I was completely happy without this thing...but, eventually, peer pressure caused me to give in, if only because I thought I needed it; now, however, I'm not all that sure that's true, if only because I've known people without it who are doing just fine nonetheless.  Some people would call me a "loser" or a "wimp" because I refuse to subscribe to the mass mentality that would tell me that I need it, but I know it's for the greater good that I don't bother with it, because of the potential problems it could cause not only myself, but others as well.

Okay, now that you've read that, take a guess: What is the "it" I'm speaking of? I'll give you a hint: It has nothing to do with entertainment.  Do you know now? You're probably thinking it's either driving or being in a relationship...and, you're right; it's both.  Believe it or not, my views on myself operating a motor vehicle are quite similar to my views about myself getting married one day.  Though I've debated about these issues for years, I now realize that the fact I can't seem to get involved in them is because of divine intervention; God is keeping me from doing what everybody and their mother seems to think I should have done a long time ago.

As usual, I'll explain with a few different points.  First off: Nobody has the right to do absolutely anything they want! When I was in school, we had to get a form signed that allowed us to use the Internet on the school's computers, and one of the statements it made was, "Usage of the Internet is a privilege and not a right." I could say the same thing about driving or being in a relationship.  As a bonus page in an old teen Bible of mine said, "At age 16 [sic], most kids feel it's their God-given right to buckle up, start the engine and cruise the planet.  From somewhere deep within, they discover the drive to drive." However, just because you want to do something doesn't mean you should.  How often do we hear about fatal automobile accidents? I understand that accidents of any kind happen to everyone, but, some people just shouldn't be allowed to operate a motor vehicle...yet, they are, and lives have been lost as a result.

That aforementioned Bible page used driving as an analogy for sex, and compared getting a driver's license to a marriage license...but, just like operating a motor vehicle, sex and relationships in general aren't for everyone either.  Today's culture is so saturated with sex, you can hardly shop anywhere without seeing a magazine, DVD cover, or poster that doesn't objectify a human being, usually a woman.  Christians know that sex is only for married people; as an old children's Bible described the seventh commandment, "Keep your actions and thoughts pure.  Sex is God's gift to married couples." While I agree with that statement, I also think that people everywhere--including Christians--are desiring sex because of what they see in the media; how many times have we seen movies, television shows, and books that glorify tawdry affairs? Abstinence advocates will tell you that if you wait to have sex, it's a blast...but, I once saw an article in Christianity Today that argued that such indoctrination has led to divorces among Christians; when they discover that sex with their spouse isn't "all that and a bag of chips," it causes a rift between them that often leads to divorce.  I know that all of us have a "sex drive," but we also have a desire for revenge, and that's always wrong to act on (Romans 12:19).

Just like with driving, there are plenty of people who are or have been married but shouldn't have been...and they didn't or won't realize it until it was or is too late.  While some of my friends are still happily married, some others probably consider saying, "I do," to be the biggest mistake they've ever made, or will eventually do just that.  I'm reminded of an incident that happened back in 2004, when I was complaining about what I had to do during a summer school P.E. class.  My teacher was reprimanding me, saying, "You signed up for this class!"...but, I actually didn't.  I needed to get a class out of the way to prepare for the next school year, but I had wanted to take chemistry instead...yet, the lead special education teacher told me it wasn't available, which I later found out was a lie.  I tried telling that P.E. instructor that I was lied to; I don't know if she believed me, but, regardless of what she thought, it was not my choice to be in that class.  That summer was easily the worst one I ever had, and that stupid class was a big part of the reason why.  However, when it comes to marriage these days, no one is forcing people to say, "I do"; they do it when they choose, with whom they choose.  I know many cases of divorce are because of adultery and/or abuse...but, that's still a problem; seriously, if you can't stay true to your spouse and treat him/her with respect, why even bother getting married in the first place? Such incidents are so commonplace that it makes me afraid to even go on a date; seriously, why would I want to bother with something that was seemingly doomed from the start with way too many of my friends and family members?

Second off: The system has failed everyone! I once saw a walkthrough for an old-school computer game that said, "The game doesn't check that you SHOULD know the answers, only that you DO know the answers. [...] Consequently, the walkthrough can be EXTREMELY brief." That actually mirrors a big problem with today's education system: It focuses too much on standardized testing and not enough on actually applying the knowledge.  Sure, pretty much anybody can fill in the right bubbles on a test sheet...but, can they put what they've learned to good use? While pretty much every system--not just education--has failed people left and right, no one feels it more than millenials, aka people of my generation.  People my age were told to go to college and get a degree in order to get a high-paying job someday...only to graduate and find nothing of the sort, having to take a "McJob" just to pay the bills.  They also didn't seem to learn very much in school; I've heard that most high schoolers graduate with only a sixth grade education.  That's why many parents are pulling their kids out of the public schools, and either putting them in private schools or homeschooling them; honestly, I can't say I blame them.

More to the point: Too many "professionals" have no clue what they're doing.  I've sat in many a doctor's office only to be told something absolutely ridiculous; seriously, if they can't come up with a diagnosis easily found on Google, how did they even graduate from medical school?  It's the same with pretty much any profession; even many high-paid Hollywood actors and actresses often deliver notoriously wooden performances.  It's just saddening when you think about it; if people can't do what they're supposed to do, why on earth are we paying them? Even if they have the training, it's not worth anything if they don't utilize it correctly.

For a while, I've been afraid to pursue a driver's license because I'm afraid I'll be allowed to pass when I really shouldn't be.  You may say that couldn't happen, but, just look at what I said above; have you never been done wrong by a supposed trained professional? The same is true of marriage: I could get married, and all my friends could approve of what I was doing...but, it could still end in disaster.  I've seen too many people who went from gushing about their significant other to despising him/her.  True, that's a Facebook thing, but, I'm sure it's been happening since well before social networking; you just don't know what happens behind closed doors.  In either case, it would be a mistake from which I'd never recover.

Third off: I don't even understand the principles behind those things! Most of you know that, just before my senior year ended, I confessed to my crush how I felt about her, and that she told me she wasn't interested in dating.  What you probably don't know is what was going through my mind when she said that: "Dating?!! Who said anything about dating??!" I don't know exactly what I was picturing in my mind, but, it definitely wasn't dating; I think it was more hanging out together and eventually getting married.  Some would say that isn't how it works...but some people have been married to someone for a long time whom they never dated.  The rules of dating and relationships are sketchy, and there seems to be no constant; what some people would tell you that you just "have" to do, other people would staunchly disagree.  While Christians would tell you not to engage in sexual activity before marriage, there are plenty of other things to worry about: How long should the guy wait before he proposes...or should the guy even be the one to propose? How long should the engagement be? Should you try to be friends before you date, or should you leap right into the relationship? The answers to those questions depend on who you ask.

The same is true with driving: While behind the wheel, you're bound to encounter some strange things.  My parents are both good drivers, but they've had to do some extreme maneuvers because of other people on the road who seem to have gotten their license from Toys "R" Us.  While behind the wheel training is helpful, there are some occurrences that no Driver's Ed class can prepare you for; they're just snap decisions that you have to make without even thinking about them.  Unfortunately, when it comes to split-second decisions, I tend to do the wrong thing...and, behind the wheel, the consequences could be deadly.

Fourth off: What's a kid like me need to be driving or dating for anyway? This is purely hypothetical, because I don't think anyone would bother with this: If someone who didn't know anything about me came in my room and tried to guess who it belonged to, I guarantee they'd come up with the wrong idea.  The Disney Channel calendars and posters would probably make them think it belonged to a ten-year-old.  I know most of you wouldn't trust a fifth grader behind the wheel, and nobody takes elementary school relationships seriously...yet, it seems that is where I am in many respects.  Though I have progressed on some fronts, I'm still very much a kid...and probably always will be.  Seriously, would you want an eleven-year-old as your significant other or chauffeur? Didn't think so.

My last point before my conclusion: If I were to achieve those things at some point in my life...wouldn't I have done so by now? I once saw a saying on a female friend's Facebook profile that said, "Guys' rejection is God's protection." I'm sure most of you would agree that goes the other way as well...but, I believe it applies to more than just relationships.  When I played Pok√©mon Red, which was kind of my introduction to video games, I was surprised at how the makers put hints and tips in various parts of the game, including some that weren't even in the official Nintendo Power player's guide.  For a long time, I've believed God does the same thing: He tells you what to do; not just through the Bible, but through events that others would believe happen only by chance.  When it comes to dating, I've been hindered several times, from rejection of dating offers from female friends to being "set up" with a woman with whom I had absolutely nothing in common.  The same is true of driving; from inadvertently failing the driver's test twice to an allegedly great driving instructor telling me he couldn't give me lessons because of a new law that didn't turn up in online research or even make much sense, I've been hindered more than once.  I've ignored divine hindrance before, and paid the price for it; I once was writing a Facebook message to someone that I knew I wasn't supposed to write...when my iPad crashed in the middle of it.  I kind of knew the reason why that happened, but, I pressed on and ended up sending it...and I regret it to this day.  I know everyone wants me to drive and get married someday, but, who knows better: God, or mere mortals? The best intentions in the world aren't going to save me from a vehicular accident or serious heartbreak.  Just like before, I think it would be wise to heed God's guidance; after all, I've had my doubts about both of those things since the beginning.

In conclusion, I will say this: I tend to wear my preferences on my sleeve; in fact, I kind of always have.  Unless you've never met me, I imagine all of you reading this know that I love the Disney Channel and despise sports; that wouldn't even be news those who don't like me.  It's more than just about entertainment, though; when I staunchly refused to get my driver's license in years past, everyone knew about it...and they debated it with me left and right.  Well, in all honesty, I'm tired of the debating.  This is not the first time I've explained why I choose to not date or not drive; you've seen it multiple times before.  You don't have to agree with it, but, I do ask that, as my friends, you respect it, not turn it into a point of contention.  The various debates I had on this topic in years past got me and the opposing parties nowhere; I wasn't convinced of their opinion, and vice versa.

Most of you have things you wear on your sleeves, too, such as your favorite sports team or your beloved pets.  I'm not knocking that; I would never unfriend you for posts on those topics.  What I ask is that you do the same for me.  Some people just don't have what it takes to be friends with me; I've been unfriended countless times, usually by people who didn't know me all that well pre-Facebook.  I'd say it takes a special person to be my friend...but, I think you already knew that.  Much like a canine devotee would say, "Love me; love my dogs!", I would say that, if you don't respect why I do what I do...then you don't respect me at all, and I have no need for such negativity in my life.  I know why I'm doing this, and, even if it seems inexplicable to you, you just need to do an Elsa and let it go.  Anything else could spell the end of our friendship.