Today I turned 18, and with it I became a legal adult who can buy cigarettes, vote, adopt a child, all that wonderful fun adult stuff. This is the first of my series that I am going to simply call Goodbye/Hello. I have a few months until I go to Utah, but many of my posts in the coming months will file under this category. I realize not a whole lot changed from yesterday in my personality, but a whole lot changed in my “social status” without my even doing anything. So my aim with this post is to say a farewell to my childhood and welcome my new adult self into this world. I’m starting this on my birthday, May 14, but I may not finish it today. Keep that in mind, because I want to share some stories I think and just generally talk about my childhood and my inevitable transition to adulthood. So, here we go.
Alright! I said it up there, but not a whole lot changed between the two days, but the photo I’m putting on this post is my baby photo. I’m including it just as a memento of how far I’ve come in 18 years in more ways than one. I’ve grown larger, I’ve grown smarter, I’ve grown wiser, I’ve grown character, I’ve grown hair, that whole shabang. I’ve grown. It’s kind of weird to think of, but I sometimes think about my first memory. I don’t know what it is, but if I had to take a guess, it was having my diaper changed by a lady at Harmony School when I was 2-3. Not a very exciting one, but still. I remember being angry at a friend of mine because she turned four four days before I turned four and she thought she was hot stuff. Then I turned four and thought I was hot stuff too.
I could really go on for hours about all the different memories I have of different things, but I think that’s kind of boring, so I’ll skip to the more important things. The biggest childhood thing that I can think of is my parents’ divorce. Before I continue on with that, I have to mention something. I’m writing a story for the school newspaper; it’s my senior column. The subject is about growing older before you’re ready, or trying to grow up too fast. With that in mind, consider the effects of a divorce. For a 9 year old, it’s sad and hard to understand. But also, the prospect of two houses and two moms and two dads and step siblings and double of everything is also really cool! I didn’t really despise my parents’ divorce until much later. I didn’t understand why it happened until a few years ago. My parents both struggled with alcohol which is one fairly major thing that drove them apart, but in my father’s words it had a lot to do with my mom’s temper. She knows she loses her temper a lot, my dad knows, and us kids know. I don’t know who else knows, but now you all do. It’s a stupid reason to say that he got divorced because she wasn’t the same person or he stopped loving her or he couldn’t handle being around her anymore. They were married for 14 years before getting divorced, and in my eyes and what I view marriage to be, that was horrific. It took me several years to discover that, but now I feel it more than ever, and maybe that’s because I’ve grown up and can now comprehend their decisions. I remember watching my parents’ wedding a year or two ago and just beginning to sob because I knew how the story ended for them. I couldn’t believe I was watching my dad say he loved my mom, or making vows to stay together forever, or my grandparents and aunts and uncles and family friends all there to celebrate love that they never knew was doomed to fail. But I did. I knew how the story ended, and I cried and I became angry at my dad. I viewed everything he said in that video as a lie. When you marry a person, you’re in it for the long haul. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be. Divorce is seen by so many people as acceptable and even a good thing because it can get people out of a “bad” relationship. As the child of divorced parents, I just have to say that is complete and utter BULL****. Divorce is a TERRIBLE thing. It destroys lives. I know God can take such ugly pain and turn it into beauty, which is miraculous, but divorce is still just horrible. I’m caught in the middle of two parents who are at each other’s throats right now, and the situation might come to the point where I have to “choose a parent.” No child of any age should ever have to choose between one parent or the other. Every child deserves to have two parents in one house loved to the moon and back by both. There’s been beauty to my parents’ divorce because its shown me how awful it is, and its influenced how I see relationships and marriage, and I think I have it right.
Maybe a bunch of stories about childhood isn’t the way to go, so I think I’ll just switch over to talking “objectively” about my childhood and childhood in general. I’m not much different now from the days leading up to my 18th birthday, and I have no official experience being an adult, but I’ve officially left childhood age. Despite all the crap I went through as a child (and by the way I’m using child as a term for anyone ages 0-17 and 364 days), I can look back on it and realize my blessings, even the ones in disguise. The divorce is hard to see as a blessing, but with God’s help I can learn to see it that way. Or the deaths of my beloved dogs and ferrets and grandparents. Or my depression. Or any sob story I could tell you. I was thinking about difficulty today because I heard a teacher and a classmate talking about racial issues in America and to avoid a rant about that because I totally can rant about that, I’m just going to say this. I understand that this world and ALL of its people are jacked up in more ways than one. I understand there’s racism and prejudice and “privilege” and killing and raping and sex trafficking and divorce and any other horrible thing you can think of. But lets get one thing straight: I don’t give a damn about your problems or expect you to give a damn about mine. By that, I mean something more along these lines: we’ve all got shit to deal with, so quit pretending yours is worse than anybody else’s or that you need special treatment or whatever. I understand fully what it’s like to have a shitty situation and then complain about it. It’s natural, but what we’re called to do by Jesus is completely unnatural, and that is to look beyond your troubles. I don’t want to hear anyone read this and say anything about “white male privilege” or any of that bullshit because it’s all about perspective. I’ve seen and heard stories from other people who’ve seen people in the worst situations this existence can throw at them and they don’t care. They don’t blame the rich, or the white people, or men or whoever. I understand that there’s no possible way I can understand what a black person faces in this country, but that’s just a ploy to seek attention and wallow in self pity. I’ve seen people with nothing, worse off than any black person I’ve ever seen, be grateful for that nothing they have. It’s all about perspective. I have so much respect for those people who have every right to hate the world and don’t. There are so many people, myself included many times, that have a right to hate the world and do. But man, when you see someone who has nothing and has every reason to hate white people or hate men or whoever the group is, but they don’t, they’re the amazing ones. They’re the MLKs or Rosa Parks or whomever. Plot twist, they’re kinda like Jesus. I just LOVE how many people are so disrespectful of Jesus at all points in history. He was hunted, and persecuted, and poor, and whipped with the cat of nine tails, and had nails driven through his palms and a crown of thorns placed on his head, but never once did he complain. Never once did he preach anything hateful. He loved and accepted his station in life with open arms, and that’s why he’s the greatest man who ever lived. And that’s why I choose to follow Him.
We’ve all got shit in this world, and there is absolutely no use in trying to compare who has the biggest dung pile, because every moment you spend trying to get others to pity how much you have is a moment that’s not being given to the only person who can take it all away. That’s the biggest thing about childhood for me. I came to know Jesus. That story is one for a different time, but my goodness, Jesus has the power to take that crap you’ve got and make it look like diamonds. It doesn’t matter what situation you’ve come from, what age you are, or how much shit your bringing to him because he changes lives. How else can I possibly view my parents’ divorce as remotely positive? Thank you Jesus for showing me a way out. It’s not by throwing riots in Baltimore, or by calling people racist, or by being the richest or “holier than thou.” It’s not about being liberal or conservative or any of that. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Christian or not, I would encourage you to read all of Romans 3 because for goodness sake we need to stop being children who hate each other and try to measure our dung piles instead of getting rid of them. I’m not saying that we don’t have some problems to fix, but I’m saying you don’t fix a window by throwing rocks at it. The riots in Baltimore right now aren’t doing anything productive, and people who are hating white men because of their “white male privilege” seem ignorant of the fact that they’re hating a group of people for their skin color and their gender, which is both racism and sexism. It’s not doing anybody any good either by pretending racism doesn’t exist, because it does. We’re all racist. It’s written in our bodies to do it, but we can overcome that. It’s not helping anybody by being greedy and hogging all your money because you earned it and have a right to it, and it’s not helping anybody by forcing them to give it away. You do things out of love, or it doesn’t work at all. I’ll go back to MLK because he understood this. He saw racism and he didn’t hate white people. He just loved PEOPLE. Not white or black or brown or polka dotted and striped. He fought for PEOPLE. He didn’t fight, he didn’t point fingers, but he changed America and changed the world. His counterpart, Malcolm X, did everything that’s going on right now. He pointed fingers, he advocated violence, and all he did was spread hatred. Think about that.
So what does all this have to do with childhood? Admittedly that was a massive tangent that I just had to get out of my system. But I think there is something about childhood in there. It started off with viewing your childhood troubles as blessings. Childhood is a time of innocence that I think should be preserved even though it seldom is. I think what you can view that tangent as is that everybody has struggles in their childhood and all throughout their life for that matter, but it’s all there for your benefit if you’re willing to view it that way. So as I say goodbye to my childhood, I say that I’m blessed to have lived every moment of it, whether good or bad. I’m blessed to live at all. Goodbye to innocence, and naivety, and helplessness.
Hello adulthood. I don’t know you well yet, but I have a feeling we’ll be great friends. I understand that you ask me to be responsible, and informed, and hardworking among other things. I’m a little scared of you because I’ve never met you or known you before, but that’s okay. Your friend childhood has prepared me for you and told me many good things about you. I hear sometimes you can be difficult, or a bitch, or a pain in the ass, but that’s okay, we all get like that sometimes. I can’t wait to get to know you more and walk through life with you. It’ll be a brand new experience, and it’s one I can’t wait for. Give me everything you’ve got. I can take it. I’m Jacob, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.