Rev(ital)ised

Rev(ital)ised: Adulthood by Michael Nichols

I was eighteen years old by the end of 2009. Everyone always makes a big deal about it. It's sort of a cultural thing, and who can blame a guy for being a little excited? You gain the right to vote, join the military, and do plenty of other things legally, some of which are wiser than others.

A few months in, I wasn't the most ecstatic person on the face of the planet, though. It seemed to me like just another number, but I was thinking about this number on much different terms. A lot of what I wished for has come true since then, to my gain and detriment. This is how I began my legal adulthood.

20 March 2010 at 2:34am -- from Facebook Notes, revised 24 February 2014

I'm eighteen years old. Milestone? I giggle at you. I have the ability to [legally] buy tobacco products, pornography, lottery tickets, and am deemed by the state/nation to be a "legal adult". How does this benefit me? If you have a theory, please enlighten me because I've got nothing. At sixteen, I gained the legal right to test for a driving instruction permit and the ability to consent to sex. At twelve, adolescence happens. Let's not go there, I think we all get it. And at random years in between we actually do this interesting thing called living our lives.

Day to day, whether we think it through at any degree or not, we make simple this-or-that decisions. Drive, or don't drive. Work, or don't work. Eat, or don't eat. Worship, or don't worship. Pray, or don't pray. Honor the Lord, or don't. Share, or don't. Get up, or don't. Love, or don't. Hope, or don't. Believe, or don't. Fear, or don't. Give, or don't. Take, or don't. I could ramble on about all the different this-or-that decisions that make up every single move we make as living souls, but I think you get the point by now.

I'm eighteen years old. What changed? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. "Legal" means nothing. Whether a government says, "We recognize you as an adult when you turn eighteen or twenty-one," does not make a difference. You choose the difference whether you're young or whether you have multiple college degrees. Is this too simple? Too easy to be true? No. As a matter of fact, simplicity is exactly what we need as human beings.

We're all just a bunch of over-sized, coffee-drinking, relationship-having, reproducing, job-doing, schedule-making children. Just because we paste on this facade of sophistication doesn't for a second mean that we're any better. Paul the apostle said, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, acted like a child, thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." He didn't hit a certain age and then magically become mature. He chose. He realized that he was a child and needed to grow up.

We believe what we believe because we were taught it. Our lives took the paths they did, and here we stand, believing what we do, be it true or false. We did not evolve into this voluntarily. We are not God. We do not have the power to breathe life into nothing. Show me someone who can besides the Lord Jesus Christ. Even from the beginning, we were taught by the Lord God Almighty in the truth, then we were deceived (taught a lie) by that old serpent called Satan (meaning: the adversary). Our sciences have been taught by the world around us when smarter men decided to listen to it.

No matter what, our existence has been nothing but a learning process... and this is where it gets ugly. When we think that we no longer need to be taught, that is when we are mere children. That is when we have failed. When we think that there is something about ourselves that is all we need, that is the exact moment we need to think again. If you jump in the deep end of your heart and swim around for a little while, you will realize this truth. You will know that there is this unquenchable thirst for something more than yourself, something solid, something that will last forever; but in this life only, we will not find such a love. "In Christ alone" will true hope be found, but I digress.

I know by personal experience that when you get that attitude of being the only one who matters, the only one of whole value, the only one who is worth fighting for, the only one without a flaw and with need of nothing... Well, let's just say that "pride goes before destruction." Eventually, life will teach you... [chuckles...] teach you that, even though you are of value, even though you do matter, and even though you do have something to offer, every single one of us having our own form of righteousness, we have nothing to offer before the Lord but "filthy rags."

But here is the thing: Jesus Christ said via His actions, "I love you. You have taken upon you dirty rags for clothing. You will be naked. But I have good clothing. Here. Take mine. From me, all who come shall be clothed." He traded His perfect life for every failure, every sin, every immaturity, every vulgarity, every curse of man behind the back of the blessings of God, every hate, every torture, and every unspeakable thing, all wrapped into one collective, united human slaughter, one ultimate sacrifice, the only one good enough.

I cannot do enough to repay Him, and that's not even the point of the cross because nobody can. But if we don't make a concerted effort in His name, then who are we, and what is the point? What love goes unreturned? What debt goes unpaid? Being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, if I care that little to the end that I would blow off this gift, His will, everything He has given me... if I don't tell anyone, if I don't do everything within my power, including surrendering to His, how dare I stand before Him and say that I'm good enough, and I should get into Heaven, or even get a decent life on earth?

I've gone all the way around the block simply to say this one thing... Adulthood. It's not an age, a right, a license. It's a choice, a surrender, humility, letting our sins be crucified with Jesus, being open to being wrong. It's a gift, grace, mercy. It's in our hands.

This is adulthood. I want to grow up.

Rev(ital)ised: Nothing Can Take It Away by Michael Nichols

This one was born of my struggle to accept things that I cannot change and live my life beyond that moment.

31 January 2009 at 3:41pm -- from Facebook Notes, revised 3 February 2014

I’m a very attentive person when I try to be. I try to take in everything I see and hear (granted, my short term memory span doesn't exactly help). I especially notice opposites: modesty versus immodesty, truth versus lies, depression versus joy, helplessness versus having a grip on life, etc. And I especially notice when people have changed and when they have something to hide.

It seems to me that, while most of the people I know are generally normal and okay with their lives, a few people have issues, and having been through stuff myself, I keep on asking myself, "What can I do to help?" and I think I have an answer.

I don’t know if you've ever been there, but have you had something that you treasured more than anything, then you made one simple decision for better or for worse, or maybe something happened that was completely beyond your control, and it was gone, in all likelihood to never be within your grasp again? I struggled with this myself, and even though you can feel the absence like a severed vein, I know one thing to be so true: nothing can take it away.

What do I mean? Two things, mainly.

First of all, nothing can take away the pain. It’s just not going to happen. Take any meds you want. Drown it out with substance abuse. You might get a high off of it, but it won’t change your life. It won’t take that situation you have and make it alright. And complaining about it definitely isn't going to help, though we all need to let it out every now and again. Making it a lifestyle for attention, though, isn’t going to help you. Sure, it’s great to ask people for advice and help when we feel helpless, but crossing that line to create drama only hides the real issues, preventing you from finding real help.

But secondly, there is a parallel to the fact that nothing can take away the pain: nothing can take away the memory. While the memory is what creates the pain in the first place by making you long for what you once had, the memory is also the one thing that can truly eradicate it. If you have that good memory that you wish you had back -- that girlfriend, that home, that church, that family member, anything -- you can say, "Hey, I had that. I was fulfilled in my life. I had a close connection with a person. I achieved that goal." Maybe somebody moved, passed on, you lost something precious, a friendship was shattered, your abilities have faded (mental or physical), but nothing can take away the fact that they were yours, and nothing can undo the past, good or bad. So if good is in it, find it, and hold it.

No matter how much you’ve lost, at least you can say that you had it, and remember that life doesn't end here even if one chapter does. Don’t lose sight of reclaiming what you can, but if you can’t get it back, even if it’s difficult to accept, please, for your own sanity, try. You will slowly start to see how good you have it and how good things can become if you refuse to let the past enslave you but instead let it propel you. Your life may not be a bed of roses. It might not even be a little rosebush. But at least you’ll have that one rose, and regardless of how many thorns have to prick your hand to hold it, you will still have it to nurture and behold its beauty.