The beard is nature’s storage space for crumbs, drips yogurt, rodents and other atrocities!
Ok, now before I get going on this I just want to say, I don’t want a bunch of flack from people older than me telling me that I am not old and what not. I know, I know! I am still young; only 29! But we are all getting older and the revelation of that hit me hard in the face yesterday…
Terrance, Clinton and I were on our way to dinner. I was driving Beth Uriel‘s bakkie was stopped at the traffic light with the window down. A young boy (maybe 14-ish) approached my window and asked for money, “Pa. Het Pa nie a fifty cent vir my nie?” (Father. Doesn’t father have fifty cents for me?” Ok, now I have only recently gotten used to the concept that the kids seem to be getting younger and younger (yes, not me getting older and older) and many have begun to call me “uncle”. At first it was weird as I moved from the “brother” territory into the older, more mature “uncle” territory. I mean, you get some young uncles out there. For instance, if I had a kid, my youngest brother Eli would be a ten-year-old uncle. I can deal with being a young uncle.
But being referred to as “Pa” was a totally new sphere of reality!! Am I really that old, that a teenage kid would call me “Pa”?! I figured, he checked my beard, which admittedly adds a good ten years to my looks, and maybe the wrinkles and creases around my eyes from the previous few years’ stresses, and he took me for a forty or fifty year old. I told him I did not have “a fifty cents” for him but expressed my thoughts to my fellow passengers, “Do I look THAT old?!” They thought so. Most especially Clinton! I called the kid back to my car window.
“How old do I look?” I waited for him to say fifty or seventy-two (like a kid at the school I teach at said the other day), to justify him, being a teenager, thinking that it was actually possible for me to be old enough to be referred to as “Pa”. He laughed out loud and shifted his head from side to side, as one would do when trying to figure out a price of something at a market, and said, “Thirty!” Well, that confirmed it. He did not think I was way older than my age and my beard did not deceive him. He thought I was the very age I am (minus a few months) and still thought it was appropriate to call me “Pa”. Well…ok. I will try and gracefully accept this.
A dude I haven’t seen for a really long time got on the same train I was on this morning. He sat beside me and we chatted. He is going through some difficult times, like many of us seem to be at the moment. I spoke about my most recent life “challenge”, knowing that he had been through a similar experience just a couple of years back. We were altogether validated and encouraged by each other’s experiences.
Both of us being Christians, and also in the line of work some might consider “ministry”, we got on the topic of how many Christians have responded to our challenges, and our decisions that revolve around them. I expressed that I felt more unconditional support from non-Christians than I did from Christians. That is a blanket statement, I know! And I have indeed received quality support from certain Christian friends and family. But as a whole, if I take all my friends and family who do not consider themselves Christians in one hand, and those who consider themselves Christians in the other, the non-Christian hand as a whole has responded in a far more nonjudgmental and supportive way.
Many Christians feel it is their duty to tell you this or that based on judgements they have formulated form a mixture of the snap shot they have from your experience and bible verses (or teachings they have heard); verses that often get used out of context to their original audience and meaning. My dude was telling me how this really bothers him. He says he really gets brought down by Christians like that who have treated him that way during the most difficult time of his life. I told him something, that I maybe didn’t even realised I believe until I said it. I told him, “Accountability is good. But Accountability is not someone popping in to your life tell you what they perceive you are doing wrong and popping back out again.” He agreed. I followed it up, “And honestly, unless that person is willing to walk along side me and really work through the crap I am going through, with me…then I am not really interested in what they have to say or how they perceive me. But if they will walk it through with me, they can say whatever they want, because they earn the right to do so.”
Dude seemed to like the idea of that, though he appeared slightly uncomfortable with me using the word “crap”, which I found funny, realizing I had indeed toned it down, for his sake, by using that word. And then he said something that struck me funny. He said, “Yeah! Well, we will see who was right and who was wrong one day in heaven!” Really? I didn’t agree with him. I don’t think it’s about who is right and who is wrong, and I think there are often more shades of grey than black and white, right and wrong. “We are all wrong. And that’s the problem, because we all think we are right. But we are all wrong in one way or another. I think we will see that,” I said. My words seemed to hit him in a way that was both refreshing and uncomfortable.
But I really think that sums it up: we are all striving to BE right, and to prove that “we” are right and “they” are wrong. I think many Christians fall into this ideological trap. But especially for christians it is totally absurd. I mean, if we take the verse serious that there are none without sin, no not one, and that we all daily make mistakes and the only “right” one is God, then it is totally ridiculous how much time is spent trying to BE right, and prove others wrong. What if we were more concerned about looking inward and living in ways that are right for us, LIVING right, and not trying to prove anything about anyone else? I think that would be cool. I want to try that.
Sorry if this blog is slightly cryptic or whiny or vague, or all of the above.
This afternoon at Beth Uriel some of the guys and I were sitting on the couch watching television. Some American gangster rap videos were on. You know Lil Wayne, Fifty Cent and the likes. At one point dollar bills were falling from the sky like fluttering paper rain and asked me if that is really how American money looks.
I just happened to have a twenty dollar bill (sent by my grandmother for some “ice cream” for Valentines Day) in my wallet so I took it out to show him. He inspected the picture of the building on the back of the note and then flipped it over. He looked at me, and then back at the large portrait of Andrew Jackson on the front and said, “Who is this?! Judge Judy?” Pretty awesome!
I always try and spell “hilarious” with two L’s. I think it looks better that way. Hillarious.
Last night on Sidewalk Talk the topic was “Absent Fathers” and the issues individuals face growing up without fathers. I want to apologize because I do not feel we were able to do the topic justice. The show was a bit rushed and sloppy. I don’t want to make excuses, but explain. I am still getting used to the new format of Sidewalk Talk reloaded and I had (kind of thick-headedly) prepared the topic with the old format in mind. In 2006 and 2007 we would spend a full hour discussing the topic in depth, dedicating approximately the first thirty minutes or so to really grappling with the topic and then spending the second thirty minutes or so hearing from listeners’ SMSes, calls, and other “experts” invited to speak in studio.
This time around, with Sidewalk Talk Reloaded, we are given two fifteen-minute slots to discuss the topics. Last night the show felt rushed and we didn’t engage the topic, and bring solutions in the way I hope to do for the topics we discuss. The purpose of Sidewalk Talk is not merely to speak about “problems”, getting emotions stirred up, but to also offer solutions and hope, encouraging action with regards to the specific topic. One listener SMSed that he liked the topic but felt we “needed more time to discuss such a sensitive topic, and there was a lack of expertise in the studio”. I do not disagree and take the full blame for that. Please rest assured that we are working out the glitches, whether we are allocated more time or I have to adjust the way we discuss the topics to fit the timeslot appropriately.
My intentions are most definitely not to cause more harm than good, and though I definitely want to “stir things up”, I do not want to bring up potentially painful topics and leave people hanging or feeling more hopeless. Bear with us as we figure all this out. We will make a plan to readdress the issue of Absent Fathers in the coming months, but please feel free to use this platform and the Sidewalk Talk Facebook Fanpage discussion board to give your experiences, insight, questions, and comments. Also, you can check out some recent blogs I have written on the topic in the following blogs:
Thanks for your understanding!