So, here I am now.
My children have all grown. They are adults now, no longer needing my guidance. I'm having to become accustomed to not having anything to say—even when I think I do. For everyone's sake, I truly should just keep my mouth shut, unless asked for my opinion. Everyone probably already knows what it is anyway.
It's strange, how I apparently find validation in hearing my own opinions espoused, even if only by myself. But it seems my world is now shrinking around me, as I have a dwindling influence on others. Perhaps this is God's design: perhaps it's now time simply for me to reflect on all of my historically proclaimed values, and see whether I, in fact, measure up.
I'm being put to the test; the test of my own moral convictions. Did I really ever mean what I said? Are my axioms and proclamations as pervasive or as permanent as I thought they were? Or were they merely expedient for the current circumstance? Was standing up for what was right in the face of adversity the proper thing to do in general, or was it simply a means of exemplifying righteousness in the hopes that my children would adopt the same habit?
My children have, in fact, done so, which brings me great joy and satisfaction, and makes the whole effort worthwhile… looking back. But now, looking forward, is it still worth the effort? Because I'm finding the temptation not just to relax a little and enjoy an easier lifestyle, but to reclusively withdraw and just slumber until I die…
I have concluded that many of the men I hang out with, though they might share my conundrum, are able to sidestep these issues in light of their commercial success. I, on the other hand, have no commercial success to help cover for my moral deficiencies. And just to be clear for everyone: lack of commercial success equals failure.
"No one's perfect," but what a sad and lame excuse that is for complete failure! It's a pathetic retort to criticism, and that's why I have never said it in my own defense. Nonetheless, it's true, isn't it?
So when I fall under the indictments of others that I mishandled the business, that I never took my family on enough vacations, that I spent all my time at work, ignoring my family's needs, that I withheld information (which no one cared to request at the time), that I took advantage of others… all I can say is, "Well, I think I did my best, which obviously wasn't good enough."
And by the way, you might be looking for the wrong guy. You might be looking for someone who is perfect. That's not me.
Yet, I can point out to you a number of guys who are without flaw regarding all of the above criticisms… you wanna live with them? They are total jerks who don't, and never will, give a damn about what you think of them. Is that the guy you're looking for? I'm not him.
Some professional psych-types would say that my problem is that I care too much about what others think. My response: Okay, so you're saying that I should be more sociopathic in my approach. But here's the thing: I, in fact, do not "care too much about what others think." I am actually quite healthy in that regard. I care about what a select few people think. The rest of the world… I really couldn't give a rat's ass about what they think. And ironically, this attitude of mine seems to be quite off-putting to the ones whose opinions I really care about! The whole thing is so inextricably, recursively intertwined… it's a flippin' nightmare!
I mean, when a man's loved ones take offense to his disregard for a complete stranger (who would like to control him and them), and they apparently impute his indifference unto themselves… who can untwist this bramble of thorns? I have had the experience of every one of my family members being mad at me and telling me what a bad person I am because I failed to be acquiescent and polite to a stranger. Am I missing something here? Especially when my current behavior stems directly from their admonitions to me to straighten up and fly right. But no, it appears that the adage of my own authorship rings true:
What society wants in a man is someone who will stand for what's right, and do as he's told.
People have no idea how close I am to just saying, "Screw it all. I'm done. Take my stuff, I don't care. I'll find my spot under the bridge and just live out the rest of my days, maybe painting turtles on the pier, selling them to tourists." Let them have their credit card statements and airfares. Let them find their own satisfaction in their quest for success and prominence in this dying world. They just don't know what the end is yet, because they haven't looked that far ahead, and they haven't come through it. Their kids aren't yet grown, so they still have some moral call to influence others for good. My call is now a thing of the past. Even if I persist, no one is listening. Society has gone off the rails—they are all a hopeless case; and they're summarily deaf. So why bother? I am obsolete; a dinosaur. I have lived out my purpose.
And now I'm wondering who's gonna write the inscription on my tombstone, because that might determine what it says… Will it be abject truth, or perhaps just a little bit sentimental?
- Loving Father
- Devoted Husband
- Friend of Jesus
- Quietly deceitful at times
- A scoundrel and a cheat to some
- Honest and upright when it mattered
- Pretty nice guy, all-around
These would both be accurate, yet incomplete. I would like it to say something like
- Loved his children and wife
- Worked hard at times, despite his laziness
- Didn't always get it right, persevered nonetheless.
- Saved by the blood of Christ Jesus.
- Morally deficient, yet Redeemed.
- Hoped only to hear God's words: "Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into my joy."
The last point is really all that matters to me at the end of the day. The first three are mere trappings of this temporal pre-existence which we are all charged to both endure and enjoy. So now—now that I have written this—my charge comes to light: "Honor God, and do what is right, by His name."
So it appears to me that, though I might think I have lived out (or out-lived) my purpose in life, I am wrong! For that still, small voice has spoken:
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."
—Westminster Shorter Catechism
So I will persevere. I shall continue to extol the virtues and goodness of my God, regardless of who listens or who doesn't—in anticipation of the inception of my enjoying Him forever, which has already begun, even decades ago, yet will increase in days and years to come, finally culminating at some point, thence proceeding into eternity. Think about that for a moment!
So I guess you haven't heard the last of me yet…