A Thought As I Turn 33 Today: Fear is a Crappy Friend

Today I am 33.

Barring any disaster, I will have lived longer than Jesus. Of course, I won’t accomplish as much as he did while he was on earth. But, he is God and I’m not. So there’s that.

33.¬†It’s a weird age. I’m not young. Nor am I old. I’m in between. But in between what? I don’t know. Life and death? How morbid.

Last week, at a youth camp, I called one of the kids Jazzy Jeff (because her name was Jazz and I make up stupid nicknames to remember people’s names better) and she looked at me completely clueless.

You know…? Fresh Prince? Jazzy Jeff? I tried to explain.

She had no idea. She knew who Will Smith was — as “Jaden’s dad!” *face palm*

Damn you pop culture references for being so irrelevant outside of one year- and for always revealing my age.

Anyway, at 33, I’ve had my fair share of valuable lessons learned. And at this age, I’ve been able to teach and share valuable lessons as well.

One of the things I am learning is how crappy of a friend Fear is.

We’re lifelong friends, Fear and I. But he’s never been good to me. More often than not, he has held me back from doing things.

At the tender age of 10, I decided that I wanted to make French Toast. On my own.

No one told me that having lots of oil in the pan was a bad thing. So, I poured a lot of oil into that pan. And as soon as that battered egg soaked bread hit the pan, grease flew everywhere. Luckily, I covered my eyes just in time, as I had grease burns all up on my forearms that shielded my eyes. The rest of my face was covered in grease/oil or whatever burns. And I spent that night in the ER.

Of course — of course – the following day was picture day. The photographer called me Ninja Turtle and Donatello because of the black spots that covered my face. Looking back, that photographer was a jerk. Who says that to a 10 year old? And Donatello? How insulting. I’m definitely a Leonardo!

But to this very day, when grease pops (is that the right term?) in the pan, I still feel a tingle in my spine. I mean, what the heck? That was 23 years ago. Why am I not over it?

I also have a fear of speed bumps. But I’m slowly getting over them. (Rim shot! … no? Not funny? Pssh)

Fear holds on tightly to my hand and refuses to let go. He’ll whisper all sorts of nonsense in my ear — and I’ll listen. Even if he doesn’t make any sense.

For instance, I have an admiration for surfers. I like hearing stories of surfers and the peace that they find being in the water. Or the thrill that’s indescribable and incomparable when catching that wave.

I want to experience that. I want to live that — not hear about it. I want to know what it’s like to catch that wave and the thrill and joy that accompanies riding a wave.

But here’s the thing. I have this deep, deep fear of sharks. It originated from watching Jaws. I remember after watching Jaws, I was afraid to go into my grandfather’s swimming pool because I was worried that there might be sharks just at the spot where the deep end began; where you couldn’t see much, because the pool dipped. Never mind the fact that it’s a pool. With chlorine. I knew that.
But Fear would always whisper… “what if… what if there was a mutant shark that can survive in that pool and lurks at the point where you can’t see, begging you to come its way…”
“But, how would it make it to the pool in the first place?”
“Shhh… you might wake it up.”
Fear never cared for logic… (btw, this was a real thought that ran through my 12 year old brain)

But here’s the stupid thing. I love Shark Week. Love Shark Week. I know too many stupid facts about sharks. But Shark Week further cements this irrational fear of sharks.
Yet, I can’t stop watching stupid shark attack videos even though they leave me with a chill that goes deeper than the marrows of my bones.

I’m also not a great swimmer. Drowning is one of the worst ways I can think of dying. And being burned alive. And being caught in a crashing plane. And being executed. And dying slowly and painfully. And being eaten by an animal… or a person… alive. And being buried alive. And… basically anything outside of dying in my sleep…

If I get caught in a current, I don’t know if I’d have the skills to swim to safety. And then I could run … swim …into a shark. I have this weird thought that I’d have a fighter’s chance of surviving an encounter with a bear. Or a lion. Or a tiger. (oh my) But a shark? My only prayer is that it’ll swallow me whole. Then, I’d make a raft out of the junk it ate. Then start a fire and have it cough me out, catching a wave (whooo!) on that raft I pieced together.

One of these days I hope to conquer this stupid fear and experience the thrill of catching a wave. But, I’m not in too much of a hurry to do so. Consider it placed on my bucket list.

I guess one of the things I can work on this year is to not let Fear be the deciding factor in my life.

A little dose of Fear is good, as it’ll keep one on their toes; keep one sharp and alert. But too much Fear may leave one paralyzed and immobile.

So here’s to another year full of love and blessings. Of joys and lessons. Of having a healthy relationship with Fear and not one where he is possessive. Although, if I ignore Fear altogether, I may not have a 34th birthday…

Anyway, thank you for all your birthday wishes.

And, as always, I am grateful that you take time to read my silly thoughts.

32

Go 32

What an odd feeling: 32.

I remember being 13 or 14 and thinking just how old 30 was, even though it was less than 20 years away. I never thought that I’d be 30. Not in a morbid sense. My teenage mind just couldn’t think that far ahead. 30 was a distant, distant land.

 

And now, not only have I reached that distant land, but am setting up camp.

 

It’s amazing how much I haven’t grown or matured.
Poop jokes still make me laugh.
Comic books still get me excited.
I want nothing more than to see a great Superman movie and a very well-done Star Wars sequels.
There are days where I want to see how much I can annoy my wife — just for the hell of it.
Man-Child has been a very appropriate title to describe me.

 

But at the same time, it’s amazing of how much I did grow, mature and learned. Particularly in the past 5 years, since I was commissioned.

 

I learned the necessity of tact. I don’t have to always say things that are on my mind. And shockingly enough, I’m not always right. Nor do I have all the answers.
I’ve learned that it’s not worth fighting every fight. By spending all my strength, time and energy killing cockroaches, I won’t have strength, time and energy to tackle the real, big, important stuff.
I’ve learned the importance of saying “no” so that I can say “yes” to the things that really matter.

 

Most importantly, I learned the most about grace.

During this election season, I’ve seen and encountered very, very passionate people. They were passionate about their candidates and the issues.
Passion is important. Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel said, “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”

 

Passion drives us. Motivates us. It’s what separates winners from quitters. Passion refuses to allow us to quit.
That’s why we want passionate people on our teams. That’s why we want passionate people for our ministries.

 

Going back to the election season, I also saw how divisive passion can be.
No one can say that Michael Jordan was not passionate about the game. His passion for the game made him the GOAT (greatest of all time). But, he was notorious for undermining his teammates, driving them crazy, driving them out of the league. The players feared Jordan, not the coach.

 

You had people on both sides so passionate about their issues and their loyalties for their party– it was (is) difficult to have a civil conversation with those passionate people, especially if you are on the other side/party.

 

People were (and are) so carried away by being right and supporting the right candidate, voting the right way.

But more than being concerned about being right, we should be more concerned about being grace-filled, especially if we claim to be Christians.

Sure, the Bible says things about certain issues, but where’s the grace in going up to people’s face and telling them they’re going to hell?
Where’s the grace in demonizing the other side?
Where’s the grace in placing the problems and decline of an entire country on the shoulders of one community, because God is punishing¬†everyone¬†because of that one community?

 

What can we learn from Jesus wishing that the Pharisees would go and learn the meaning of “I desire mercy not sacrifice?”

 

I think I’m a passionate person. And I want passionate people to be part of our team in ministry.
But I am learning that more than passion, grace is far more important.
Passion may drive our team, but grace will keep our team together, strong and healthy.
And if we as a church and people of God don’t practice grace, then what are we, really?

 

32. Such a weird number. And age to be.
I am excited to see what God has in store for me for this coming year.
How much will I grow?
How much more will I regress when it comes to potty humor and superheroes?

 

Either way, I’m thankful to be alive.
I’m thankful for the many, many blessings that are in my life, especially for my wife and family.
I’m thankful that God still finds purpose in me.

And I just pray that my life will reflect the love, grace and goodness of God.

 

28

I’m 28.
It’s such an odd and awkward age.
Which fits me perfectly. I’m odd and awkward.

Maybe God will move things through and I’ll get ordained by the age of 30. I mean, Lord knows we need young clergy in the UMC. And by ‘young clergy’ I don’t mean the pastors who are in their late 30′s and early 40′s.

I’m closer to 30. I wonder if I’ll freak out when I hit 30. We’ll see.

God has done tremendous and amazing things in my life last year.

I’m sure there’s much to look forward to in my 28th year in life.