A Wanted Generation

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“It’s better to be wanted and never gotten than to be gotten and never wanted.”

These are the words that flow through my mind on a daily basis. It’s part of what protects me from being hurt by the people around me whose approval and desire I covet.

As I think about the bar that I just left, and my mind slowly recovers from the extreme sensory overload, I think about what this generation is longing for. All I saw were a few friends and a bunch of people waiting to be noticed by someone else — ideally, someone who will increase their social status.  It’s all very primal, really — a petri dish of life-sized bacteria, waiting for osmosis to occur among its cells.

We all want to be wanted, and no one wants to admit that they want someone else. That is evident through the ridiculous lengths we go to make ourselves look beautiful or handsome, while maintaining an heir of mystery so others will seek us out and not force us to risk our hearts, our image or false sense of invincibility. It’s a cycle that is as equally self-defeating as it is paradoxical.

Our eyes are constantly bombarded with images of what “beauty” is, conditioning our minds to want what is attractive according to the world’s standards. If we live in the civilized Western society, capitalism has taken its toll on our perceptions through fantastic marketing and billions of attention-getting dollars.  It’s all to get us to spend our money on something we wouldn’t want unless someone told us that we wanted it.

Meanwhile, our parents are getting divorced in droves, our kids are suffering with countless self-esteem/self-image issues, and our definition of love is so completely distorted by our experiences that believing there’s a God who is Love doesn’t even compute in our finite brains because we have no grid for what true love looks like. The criteria is basically, “Can I live life better than my parents?”.

One less abusive word?  A marriage that lasts a few years longer? Less yelling at each other? More watched soccer games and piano recitals?  Is that what a greater love looks like to most of us? Where does this leave us?  It leaves us with an emptiness that is satisfied temporarily by the belief that we have lived slightly better than our biological predecessors, not ever tasting the joy of pure love.

It’s no wonder that single people are so far behind the previous generation in getting married. We want to be wanted, but not gotten.  If we’re gotten then we are forced to be known. And if we are known, experience tells us that we will be rejected or our closeness will result in pain of some sort. Therefore, it’s much easier, and actually makes more sense to never commit to anyone while getting the physical need for sex fulfilled in a variety of ways and giving up on the built-in need for companionship and love.

As a single person, I can’t speak for married people, but I would imagine that marriages deal with many of the same issues.  The two parties involved were just able to overcome one aspect of relationship that the single person hasn’t — the willingness to be gotten.

I know this is an extremely negative post, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to try and meet people where they are, to understand the mindset of many of my peers and myself so that I can take steps to change a belief and alter a behavior through forgiveness of myself and others.

We have an opportunity to change that. By encouraging one another, by opening up our lives to the people around us, by intentionally being kind, bold and caring, we can change the culture a little at a time so people know that love is available in its truest form, and that it’s okay to be gotten.

How’s My Driving? an exploration of human emotion

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If I ever wrote a book, I think it would be called “How’s My Driving?: an exploration of human emotion.”

Why?  Because I can gauge my emotional health by my driving habits.  A healthy driver is not negatively influenced by aggressive, slow or careless drivers.  A healthy driver understands that he or she is divinely protected, loved unconditionally, understood as a person, and forgiven as a son or daughter of God. He or she cares for the drivers around them and does not engage in careless acts, knowing that being on the road in a vehicle is the equivalent of being shot out of the barrel of a gun in a crowded room and the slightest mishap results in a crash.

At the same time, the healthy driver wears the seat belt, uses the turn signal, stays a reasonable distance from the car in front of them and allows others to merge without feeling like he is being challenged.  In the situations where he is being challenged, he understands that other drivers are at a different point in the emotional processes of life and kindly declines to participate in the conflict.  His pride is not worth putting himself and others at risk of harm.  While it is normal to feel anonymous and invincible in city traffic, one must understand the gravity of poor choices made in such an environment.

This is the definition of a healed individual. Their driving habits do not define them any more than their car, but it can be an excellent indicator of how well one has managed the pain and external stimuli in life.

Unfortunately, this isn’t me. I’m aggressive, invincible, impatient, rarely back down from a challenge and drive way too fast.  I constantly compare my beat up car to those in the lanes beside me and force myself NOT to find my value from the vehicle I drive.  A vehicle, after all, isn’t a measure of success.

My vehicle was free.  It works.  It gets me to work and back home. It gets 25 mpg and needs a new hood and bumper.  I haven’t fixed it because it’s not a top priority.  Who cares what my car looks like.  If my value isn’t gained from my toys, it’s easy to get by without them.

“But you have the iPhone,” some might say.
“Isn’t that some kind of perceived status symbol?”

I didn’t say I had this down yet.  I too, am in process.

When I do get to choose my vehicle, it will be out of necessity or because I’ve saved the money to get it – in cash.  (A shout out to Dave Ramsey, right there.) It will not be chosen out of a need to impress the world around me or give the perception that I’m more successful than I am. The car will not reflect who I wish I could be, but who I am. It will be a tool, an investment, an expense, and something I don’t mind parking on the first row at Wal-mart.

As I slowly let my selfishness, shallowness, and unhealthy emotional responses fall by the wayside, I find a joy creeping into my life that is all but unfamiliar. It’s the freedom that comes when a person realizes their life is not in their own hands, but in the hands of one far more capable of providing a desirable result.  It’s trust. It’s knowing of God’s protection. It’s being comfortable in His sight, relying on His Word, actively refusing to accept the lies and desires of the flesh and being a servant to everyone around you.

Driving is but one marker of this process.  Many others exist.  Not all of them, however, make for such a catchy title to a book.