10-20-30

Sonja tagged me with an encouragement to take a stroll down memory lane.

Ten Years Ago (October 1997) – I had graduated from Wheaton in May. For four years my plan was to take my History and Biblical/Theological studies double major and go to law school. I had taken the LSAT. Did pretty well on it. Had an internship in downtown Chicago at a pro-life law firm during my sophomore year. My senior year came. There was a family financial disaster. Indeed, it was a miracle that I even attended, let alone finished Wheaton, so it wasn’t a surprise really. I was disappointed, mostly because I felt like the struggles and emptiness and frustrations that seemed to echo through my four years of intellectual and spiritual growth were supposed to mean something. I thought I had earned the right to take more steps towards my chosen career. My schooling had been a work of God, who gave me just enough to keep going back each year, with more than one apparent miracle providing the way. Each year when it came time for me to return I wanted to go, wanted to finish. For as hard as it was, it was there I had met God, after being acquainted all my life. And met prayer.

I graduated unable to pay off my last bill. My transcripts were frozen. I couldn’t apply anywhere. That summer I thought seriously about joining the army, paying off my loans and giving me a break from the spiritual and emotional intensity. That changed at some point in the summer. I had looked seriously into and got hit hard with the fact it wasn’t for me. Mostly because I realized I wasn’t running towards. I was running away. So I stayed. I applied for jobs. No one was hiring. I had no direction, other than my desire to go to law school. I was confused, frustrated. A little mad at God. He wasn’t talking anymore. I prayed for guidance. Silence. Just silence. Like he brought me through Wheaton, threw me into the fire, and then decided he would abandon me to my smoldering. I graduated and moved back home with my parents in San Dimas, CA (on the eastern edges of Los Angeles County).

In October I think I was still unemployed. I had likely started to arrange returning to my temporary work at the local post office which would run through the holidays. This time not as a carrier but as a clerk managing the busyness of mail organizing. I was about to turn 23, ten years ago this week in fact.

The day before Christmas 1997 I quit my job at the Post Office (they weren’t too happy with that). I had bought and received the 10 volume set of the ante-nicene Fathers. I quit work so that I could read through those, books I was introduced to during my sophomore year at Wheaton–by far the best year I had of the four.

Twenty Years Ago (October 1987) – I was in the beginning of 7th grade, about to become a teenager. We had moved from the mountains above Santa Barbara earlier in the summer (the rural mountains, not the mansion filled hills) to La Verne, CA (right next door to San Dimas). I lived at a boys home. With my parents, who worked there and we had an apartment on the facility. I hated being back in the Los Angeles area. Santa Barbara was an amazing town to live in, and I was crushed to move away after only a few years there, after really being involved in school and sports. Life was looking good for me, and I was torn away from it. To live in the valley outside of Los Angeles, where the sky was dirtier, the people less friendly, the whole environment more stressful for a lot of reasons. I did have good friends from this area who I had known earlier in life, including my best friend. And oddly enough another best friend who I had lost contact with also started at the same junior high. So, I had friends. Life was hard in a lot of ways. But I found a community pretty quick.

I wore thick glasses and hardly ever combed my hair. I was a fair bit clueless, but didn’t notice the fact. I was in the band and played saxophone. I didn’t play too many sports. I missed a lot of school and started watching David Letterman regularly.

Thirty Years Ago(October 1977) — I was about to turn 3 years old this week 30 years ago. My earliest memory in life comes from May of 1977. I distinctly remember standing outside of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood after seeing Star Wars. I stood with my mom and my older brother near the immortalized hands in concrete and waited for my dad to pick us up. He had parked the car a bit away, and it was too far for a 2 year old to walk. We lived in an apartment just off the main street in La Verne, CA. Which is now indistinct from any other suburb with Starbucks, and Target, and all the same shopping plazas. Then there were still a lot of orange groves (the area used to be the top orange producing region in the world), and lots of open land. There were a group of kids who lived in the apartment complex and if it wasn’t entirely like the Our Gang movies, it certainly had that flavor to it. My best friend (first girlfriend?) was Melissa. I wonder where she is these days.

NowOctober 2007— I went to seminary instead of law school starting in 1999. Got my M.Div instead of my J.D.. Had a similar experience after seminary as I did after Wheaton. God pushes me then sort of leaves me hanging. I worked in a church. I stopped working in a church. I stepped away from everything responsible and orderly, moving away from Pasadena in October 2003 to live in the mountains and try to write. I confused people with my apparent abandonment of rational ambition. On November 1 my first book is being published. I’m speaking at an academic conference at Duke in March on the topic of the Emerging Church and the Holy Spirit, I’m starting the process of applying for a PhD in systematic theology. Just got back from my ten year Wheaton reunion where I met up with friends old and new, and made peace with the place. Life is good. Lots of stuff up in the air. Lots of the standard expectations of life yet unfulfilled. But that’s okay.

2007 has been a good year, opening up and affirming all sorts of things. Life is strange and has made some pretty big turns when I didn’t expect it. Almost like it’s a dance I’m in. I’m very content as I turn 33 this Thursday.

I’m supposed to tag others, but I’d be happy to have anyone who reads this have a go at it. It’s fascinating to do, and even more fascinating for me to read the stories of others. The history major in me still lingers I suppose.

Here’s what I’m supposed to add:

It’s an experiment to see how many degrees we can separate (kind of like Kevin Bacon, only it’s relevantblog). Even if you’re not tagged, don’t be crabby, just take up the baton and run with it. Here’s what I ask: Have folks post their 10-20-30s, and then link back to the Mother Ship (www.relevantblog.blogspot.com) or write a comment here, saying where you heard about this experiment and sharing where you blog. This isn’t to build my empire, it’s to find out how far we can expand the blogosphere. After all this talk about blog tours, it got me thinking. How many people can one blog potentially reach?

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