Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ideals, Beliefs

A few weeks ago, my friend Mikey-G said something on facebook that got me thinking. He said "20 min lunch break outside of shorts, no shoes... and then back to work. a 9-5, nearly windowless, pants-only job. something went very wrong since last may.", meaning that life had not gone as he planned since graduated from college. I remember sitting with Mike and some other people, our senior year, and discussing how living "in community" with other people might mean pooling our incomes as one bank account. Another friend likes to talk about joining a commune a lot, but then recently said that maybe it was silly.

I once told a friend, my last year of high school, that I wanted to be "an artsy-fartsy Comp Sci major" in college, and I think I did that pretty well, although I don't think I really tried hard; it just happened. If anything, I wasn't enough of a Comp Sci major, but that is another story. I went to UMBC because I applied to three schools in the area with decent Comp Sci programs, got into all three, prayed, and UMBC gave me a big scholarship. I went for Comp Sci because I thought I was good at it, and being a programmer seemed to work out well enough for my father. I turns out, I'm not all that good at it (Don't tell my boss), but that's also another story I think, and I don't enjoy it. I went on missions trips to Bulgaria and Ukraine, and both times I prayed "Well God, I think that'd be pretty cool and I think you might want me to do that, but I have no idea. So, if I'm not supposed to go, please make it really obvious." and then I ended up going.

In December, I went to a big conference out in St. Louis called "Urbana", because it used to be held in Urbana, IL, run by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. While I was there, I heard a lot of speakers say a lot of things that scared the pants off me, because I agreed with them. Sometimes, you believe things and you don't know it until someone says it. People talked about moving to foreign countries where people get shot all the time, or into cities where people get shot all the time, and how God is teaching them to love people in those places. They talked about how we waste our immense wealth on things that don't matter while people are dying. They talked about how we pursue so many of the wrong things in life, things that are not actually God.

The last night there, we had Communion (you know, the Eucharist). I knew we were going to, because it was in the schedule, and when I looked up at the stage, there stood the woman who had just finished speaking, a few minutes before, in white vestments. The bread came around, and as I held that little piece of strange, edible material (It is hard to find cheap, bread-like product for 20,000 people that isn't strange, I suspect), I thought about a lot of things. One of the things I thought about was whether it was okay to eat this bread and drink this wine when the person serving it was a woman. Then I ate the bread and I drank the wine (well, okay, it was grape juice. That's another story), and it was good.

Towards the end of college, I applied for some jobs, through a little website that my school had for finding jobs. I got an interview with a company to be a programmer, and they made me an offer and I accepted it, because, let's face it, it was the only job interview I had got, and it was getting on April, with graduation right around the bend. Then there was working at Camp and then a very long period of waiting, and then I actually started my job, and then I freaked out. Suddenly I my job was to spend every day sitting in front of a computer trying to get my brain to figure out what bizarre words to put in what order in order to get the computer to do meaningless tasks. I quickly came to the conclusion that letting life happen as it happened did not always work out for optimal results. I also regretted not pursuing becoming a teacher instead of a programmer sooner than tomorrow.

It's very easy to say you believe something is the best, but it is incredibly difficult to make good on those words sometimes. I don't know when this is wrong or when it is okay. Sometimes, after you state an ideal, your actual experiences demonstrates that the ideals you thought you had were not really the things you valued most. Sometimes, I think we violate ideals out of laziness or selfishness, but other times it just happens and it's hard to say that anyone did anything wrong. The best are when we discover the ideals we thought we had were wrong, and that something better has replaced them, but those are rare events I suspect. Many times, we simply don't hold ourselves to our own ideals, letting things slip because doing it right is too hard. If a certain thing is the best way, then it should be worth doing it that way. This can be difficult to believe sometimes.