Last weekend was very special to me. I got to spend quality time with friends I haven’t seen in a long while. It’s amazing how people can change. Whether it’s months or years, a lot can happen to a person that influences what they do, why they do it, and who they want to become. Of course, we did the usual “catch-up” chatter – you know: “What have you been up to since…” Fortunately, the conversations didn’t stop there.
To me, the best one-on-ones occur when you transcend what you’ve done and dig into what you believe. Those are the meatier conversations. They make you use your brain, and – if you get really lucky – they may even challenge you to think differently. 🙂
Without really getting into the details (because those are none of your business anyway), here are some of the biggest questions/statements that came up in conversation this weekend. Bear in mind that some of them may have more significance for Christians, but – then again – perhaps not. Decide for youself:
Which is more worthwhile? Furthering your education and/or pursuing a career, OR foregoing all of that to serve the poor in another country. Perhaps both of them are equally worthwhile in their own way? Can anyone really judge which is better?
Where do we derive our value as an individual? I believe my value comes from my identity in Christ – not anything I do. Yet, while I believe that in my mind, my heart is not always on the same page. I remember many times when I got really discouraged because of a mistake I made at school or in my job. This is where perfectionism turns from a positive to a negative. But this is a topic for another blog post.
Are we getting older, or are we aging? This seems like a silly question, but it actually gets at something profound. The way my friend put it, think about the difference between an “old” wine and one that is “aged”. The connotation is that the old wine is bitter and no good. Perhaps it was left uncorked for too long. It’s no longer useful (except, of course, for cooking – but no metaphor is perfect). The aged wine, on the other hand, gets increasingly valuable with time. So, which wine do you want to be? Will you resign yourself to irrelevancy as the years go by, or will you choose to believe that your value increases with age?
How do we measure someone’s potential? And should we? I don’t think so. Take this, for instance: I have a number of friends who chose to marry right out of college. One might make the case that in-so-doing they and their spouses have stunted their growth as individuals. I don’t agree, because living single and maintaining a family are distinctly challenging lifestyles – each coming with unique benefits and pitfalls. While a single person may have the freedom to travel and pursue his or her own interests at will, they also lack the special intimacy of companionship found exclusively in marriage. What’s more, they won’t be able to experience the joy of raising a family. That’s not to say, of course, that raising a family is always easy or “fun”. I know. I caused a lot of mischief for my parents when I was younger. And now, being a single guy, I am quickly learning that going it alone isn’t so easy either.
Oh, and I also know of families with kids that travel a lot. Conversely, there are plenty of single people I’ve met who do very little with their lives. Again, how can we really measure anyone’s potential?
What about our own potential? Good question. I believe we can set goals and work hard to achieve them. Then again, my own limited life experience has so far taught me that I don’t really know the extent of my potential. God does (duh! But that’s a boring answer). If I don’t know know my own potential, then how do I know what I should do? Trust God? How do I know where God is leading me? I once heard a good quote from some pastor on the radio: If you can’t see very far, then go as far as you can see. God will take care of the rest… Make of that what you will. Suffice it to say, I think we should stop waiting for God to give the green light. He’ll give us the red light if we’re going the wrong way.
And, lastly, Which is more valuable? The goal or the journey?I think this one is easy to answer, but it’s hard to practice. I believe the journey is more valuable than the goal, because the journey is where you learn who you are and what you’re capable of. In the course of a journey, you may even change your goal. If you value the goal more than the journey, you may just run yourself into the ground and get discouraged. If you fully invest in training for a marathon, the marathon will eventually just happen. Or, perhaps you will get injured and be exposed to some new goal you might have otherwise overlooked. This kind of reaches back to the question about knowing your potential. The journey is where you learn your potential, and your journey is really never over – at least not until you die or resign yourself to becoming “old wine”.
Of course, as a follower of Christ, I believe my journey will continue beyond death, and my potential for growth can only increase with time.
God bless, and good night!