Saturday, June 28, 2008

Into, and Out of, the Wild

I just finished watching the movie "Into the Wild". What a movie. The attitude I've had over the past few weeks and the premise of this movie aligned perfectly. Quick synopsis: a upper-middle class white boy is fed up with typical society and decides to depart entirely from a normal life by becoming a tramp. He graduates from college and completely drops off of the radar- ditches his car, his money, his identity, etc. He goes on a complete radical two-year adventure that involves lots of hitchhiking, meeting interesting people, kayaking down the Colorado River, trainriding, and a "Great Alaskan Adventure". I won't spoil the ending for those of you who will watch the movie (and I highly recommend that you do), but between all of the things that he did and none of the things that I'm doing- I'm incredibly jealous of his adventure.

Now don't get me wrong- I'm not about to go abandon everything I've worked for and the plans that God has for me because I saw a movie. But that kind of revolution- the willingness to disregard everything that you're being told is true and good, everything that the world insists that you conform to- is what we need. I won't launch into a diatribe as a often (well, previously) have. But my most recent outlook on the world is that the way things have always been done is not necessarily the way things ought to be. I don't even mean that in a 'some things could use improvement' kind of way. There are some things in this world, in our society, in my life- that are completely wrong. There are even more things that are tolerated despite being okay, but not ideal. The tolerance of mediocrity in one's own standards is unacceptable.

Despite the monotony in my life as of late, I suppose change is upon me. I've gotten into reading Christian literature and found it to be a great way to enrich myself. It turns out that the people who write highly acclaimed books often have some interesting points to make. So far, I've read Wild At Heart, Every (Young) Man's Battle, The Jesus I Never Knew, and most recently, Blue Like Jazz. As a result of the wisdom I've gleaned from these books in combination with the things that God has taught me through experience, reflection, and revelation- I'm changing. The greatest changes in my life started almost a year ago when my own Alaskan adventure started. In that time, I'm not the same person I was when I started. I don't think that the change is going to stop here. Even though my latest adventure is concluded and I am currently living a very typical, very normal, and very monotonous life- I know that God has a lot of things to show me.

I'm not a normal person, nor am I typical. By no means do I mean to sing my own accolades, but I now understand that God has made me into the person that I currently am for a purpose. He has a plan for my life, and as I've told myself countless times over the past year, I could not possibly improve on His plan. Therefore, any idea or plan that I have is inherently and fatally flawed- unless it aligns exactly with God's plan. So why has God brought me to where I am? Why, on an otherwise nondescript Saturday afternoon in June, was I inspired to watch Into the Wild alone and be launched into a tirade of introspection? I think God had a hand in all this.

I'm in a unique position. I'm going someplace that not very many people go, apparently, because I'm not like many people. I'm absolutely certain that there are aspects of my personality that God does not like and wants me to change. However, I know that I am not all wrong and that at least part of the way I am is the way that God wants me to be. Why is that? The aching to know what purpose God has made me so very different for is killing me. I feel like I'm on the verge of life, some purpose that God has for me; but either I have not been in tune to His messages or He has not yet revealed it to me.

This is quite exciting, though- because the unique way that God made me says a great deal about the unique life he is preparing me for. I can look at myself and estimate just how exciting and unusual my life is going to be based on how unusual God has made me. It's absolutely OUTSTANDING to know that I am not going to lead a typical life because that is not what God has made me for. Because God has formed me into an unusual person, He has an unusual life in store for me.

This answers, then, the frustration I've been feeling over the last few weeks. Last summer and the whole last year were chock full of adventure, the dangerous kind that makes unique guys breathe life and the mothers worry terribly about how uncertain it all is. The kind of thing that involves going to Alaska and Australia and Korea and Japan, most of it with very few plans and the wonderful feeling of uncertainty and responsibility for oneself. To put it one way, over the last year, I was alive. By contrast then, I am now dead. My life is so certain, so well-prepared for, and completely safe that I feel like a walking corpse. Although my work does occasionally pique my interest and keeps me busy, I am bored out of my skull. I haven't built anything in weeks. It's awful.

Perhaps you can see the relief that I feel that this walking-dead corporate white-collar zombie life is not what God has planned for me. I can see this because although I am competent at my job, I am not content with it. God has made me to be ill-content with this sort of existence, and that is absolutely wonderful- God does not plan for me to be a white collar worker, and perhaps you tire of hearing this, but that is JUST GREAT. I am going to live a life of adventure because that's what God made me for. I didn't know it was possible to get excited while writing a blog post in a basement in upstate New York- but I am. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.

All of this merely from the thoughts of the plans that God has for me. God has brought me this far through his grace and leadership- and if I keep my end of the deal and follow Him, my life will turn out to be an incredible, satisfying, and wonderful adventure.

That's great. I want to end it there, but that doesn't address the inadequacy I feel for being stuck here and now. The great excitement I feel is because of the relief that I won't be the way that I am now for the rest of my life. That's awful, because the way that I am now is... bland. Boring. It's killing me. This summer is good because it's what God has for me, and I know that because of the way that He led me here- and I'm going to stay here. But in the interim, I'm going nuts.

I have so many desires that come as a result of the way God has made me, it's hard to live a boring life. I want to make things. I want to learn things. I want to meet people and hear their stories. I want affirmation. I want to make a difference in lives. I want to do things that conventional wisdom says is a 100% bad idea- and get away with it because conventional wisdom is so often wrong. I want to travel and see the beautiful world that God has made. I want to develop personally in ways that I didn't know were possible. I want to have emotional closeness with the wonderful woman who will one day be my wife. I want romance. I want to not feel like a horse straining at the reigns of a carriage that is just going way too slow.

I'm tempted to use all this desire as an excuse to plan my own life and determine through my own will that God's will involves excitement RIGHT NOW. It doesn't, though. God has me here and has given me no indication that a change is imminent. God set me up wonderfully in Ithaca. It's almost miraculous- everything worked out better than I, a mortal man, could have hoped for or arranged by my own efforts.

So I'm frustrated, but also glad. I'm frustrated that things are moving so slowly right now and that so many of my desires are unfulfilled- yet. I am glad, though, that God has a perfect plan for me and that he knows the desires of my heart and he put them there. He has plans to fulfill them- I just have to wait and follow him unwaveringly.

Yes, I know that this is my first post in almost seven months, and more than likely it doesn't make complete sense to people who don't know my summer setup. I will explain that soon, as I finally get around to updating my blog. As a sort of consolation prize for having put it off so long, I can salve my need for adventure by reliving and retelling the great adventure that was December 2007 while I update things around here.

Note: Into the Wild is rated R. It doesn't censor his story. There is nudity.

3 comments:

TeachEucratics said...

I love this good writing.

akaGaGa said...

Ned, I was fascinated by your post. It was like going back thirty years in time and reading something I had written about myself. Thanks for the insight.

Having the great advantage of looking back on the paths God has walked me down, I can't help but suspect what God's next move will be in your life. No, I'm not a prophet and I don't play one on TV.

But reading all your references to being bored, if I know God at all, I think at some point He's going to teach you how to be content and serve Him ... even when you're bored. This might take a while. :)

It's a bit like that old joke: Don't pray for patience, 'cause God will make you wait forever.

I will pray for you, that you may know the breadth and the depth of His love.

P.S. If you're looking for some more Christian reading material, you might try A.W. Tozer. He challenges the heart.

Beef Supreme said...

oh do pray for patience. Once you accept it is when God does something totally different.

The adventure never leads you to what you can fathom, but to places you never imagined. Its exciting!